What does the idiom "lay bare" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does lay bare mean? In what situations is lay bare used?

Meaning of "lay bare"


The idiom 'lay bare' is usually used to express the idea of revealing something, usually in a dramatic or thorough manner. It implies that the thing being exposed is normally hidden, and the exposure of it has a powerful effect. It is often used to indicate that information or an idea was made clear or known, or that secrets or feelings were shared. The phrase is often used in a figurative sense, but it can also be used literally to describe the act of stripping away clothing or other layers of protection.


The phrase 'lay bare' first appeared in writing in the late 16th century, though it is believed to have been used in spoken language much earlier. Its origin is not certain, but it is likely derived from the Old English verb 'bebarian,' which means to strip off or uncover. It is also thought to have been influenced by other Old English terms such as 'bealcian,' which means to reduce to a state of poverty, or 'bebryded,' which means to strip away or expose. It is also possible that the phrase may have been influenced by the Latin phrase expolire, which means to bare or strip away.


The phrase 'lay bare' is typically used as an idiom. It often implies a kind of emotional or mental exposure, such as when a person's feelings or thoughts are made known. It can also be used to refer to a physical exposure, such as when clothing or other items are removed. The phrase typically carries a sense of finality or completeness, as though something has been fully revealed or uncovered.

The phrase can be used in both positive and negative contexts. It may have a positive connotation when something is revealed to its fullest extent, but it may also have a negative connotation when it implies that something is being exposed in a damaging way. It can also be used in a neutral context, as when something is simply uncovered or revealed.

Example Sentences

  • After months of silence, she finally laid bare all of her secrets.
  • The investigation laid bare the truth about the scandal.
  • When the wind blew away the fog, the shore was

The meanings of the words in the "lay bare" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.


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