show one's true stripes

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show one's true stripes (third-person singular simple present shows one's true stripes, present participle showing one's true stripes, simple past showed one's true stripes, past participle shown one's true stripes or (US also) showed one's true stripes)

  1. (idiomatic) To reveal one's real beliefs, sentiments, or character, especially through one's behavior.
    • 1996 Feb. 26, "Editorial" Against Change in Cuba," Miami Herald, p. 14A (retrieved 21 March 2013):
      Fidel Castro showed his true stripes again—as if they weren't indelible enough already—by letting his MiGs shoot down two of three unarmed Cuban-exile planes off Havana's coast on Saturday.
    • 2002, Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, →ISBN (2011 reprint), p. 363 (Google preview):
      “Now they're showing their true stripes,” Iimmy Fioretos said. “The Turks wanted to invade all along. That malarkey about ‘protecting the Constitution’ was just a pretext.”
    • 2005 July 12, Danny Hakim, "With Sierra Club's Help, Ford Pushes a New Hybrid ," New York Times (retrieved 21 March 2013):
      "My fear is that Bill Ford is showing his true stripes as just another short-sighted auto executive with no interest in the environment."