Repeating Stories, Not in the Outhouse

Free Week and I want to talk about a few choice phrases.

I used the term “telling tales out of school” a week or so ago. It popped right out; I had not said the phrase or heard it in many years. Do you know it? It means to talk about something that is within the scope of a group or situation which not everyone is privy to.

(Do people still use the word “privy” in this context? I do.)

I was referring to something that happened in a group to someone who was not involved. It wasn’t gossip, nor was it particularly a secret; it simply wasn’t common knowledge.

I am known for my discretion. I have heard and kept more secrets than many people. People know that they can trust me when they need to get something off of their chests. I can mediate situations between people because I have knowledge of both sides. (I almost wrote “am often privy to both sides”). I usually can persuade one party to confide at least part of their ‘secrets’ to the other, without doing so myself. But in this case, I saw no harm in telling a tale, but it did happen within a close group, to which the person I told was not involved.

It hit me funny as I said it, though: “I may be telling tales out of school, but…”. I realized as I said it that it was such an old-fashioned saying that the person that I was speaking to may not know it, but I carried on, since I had already started telling the tale.

Have you ever used that phrase, “telling tales out of school”?

How about “being privy to”?

Have you heard them used recently?

Should I make an effort not to use these phrases?

Do I sound like I belong in another century?


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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6 Responses to Repeating Stories, Not in the Outhouse

  1. I’ve heard both phrases but have only used “being privy to”. My kids and I use words like “overmorrow” and “fortnight”
    so I am not one to say that someone else’s speech is outdated. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Overmorrow”? I LOVE it! It must sound positively Shakespearean at your house! I had heard that if you want to basically hear how English was spoken in the 16-17th centuries, go to the heart of Appalachia, since the language had not changed much. They were cut off from outside influence, but I suppose that with more and more people being hooked up to electricity and the advent of cable/satellite TV, the outside world has invaded, after all this time.


  3. jeff7salter says:

    I’ve heard both sayings and have used both, but I’ve used “privvy” more than “school.”
    Seems to me that most of the people who’ve used the “out of school” expression (within my earshot, at least) have been folks older than me. So I gather it’s one of those sayings which likely stopped being widespread in the generation before you and me.
    Being “privvy to” on the other hand, still seems to me to be good, standard English… and I use and hear it often.


    • Glad to hear that ‘to be privy to’ is being used. It IS good, standard English, but how much of THAT do you hear anymore?!
      “Telling tales out of school” on the other hand is probably more of an expression they use in England, what with their boarding schools and ‘public’ schools, which are anything BUT public.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I’ve heard both sayings, but never used the telling tales one. I agree with Jeff, it’s one that hasn’t been commonly used for a long time. I hear younger people say they’re privy to information. As for whether or not YOU should use them, I think a person’s speech is part of who he or she is, and unless people aren’t understanding you, there’s no need to delete these phrases from your vocabulary.

    Liked by 1 person

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