opposite of "tooting their horn"

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi,

If you have a scene at a party where people are asked to mention the negative aspects of their personalities/lives, what would be a good idiom to use to describe it? Something that's the opposite of "tooting their horn."

Thank you!
 
  • gramman

    Senior Member
    >>a good idiom to use to describe … [being] to mention the negative aspects of their personalities/lives

    While we wait for a clarifying response from susanna76, allow me to offer a few imprecise, at best, suggestions:
    • place/put oneself under the/a microscope — to be subjected to critical examination
    • bare one's soul/heart — to reveal one's innermost secrets and feelings (but not at all necessarily about one's own shortcomings)
    • open up — to speak freely or without restraint (WRF dictionary)
    I think that if asked to do all three of these things, people would get the idea. I can't think of any single expression that conveys the intended meaning.
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    I think this points to the lack of clarity noted by JulianStuart. Self-effacing behaviour is modest/humble, and therefore certainly does not involve any tooting of one's own horn. However, "mention[ing] the negative aspects of their personalities/lives" seems to be another matter — not merely keeping quiet about one's strengths, but disclosing one's shortcomings.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Self-effacing is . . . the opposite of tooting one's own horn (I think).
    It is; "tooting one's own horn" = bragging.

    I'm not quite sure what Susanna means, but talking about one's negative traits doesn't sound like a great party activity.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Thank you all. There probably isn't a phrase for that then. No, it's not. But it can be, among friends. I like self-effacing, but I agree it doesn't apply to mentioning/discussing shortcomings. So maybe "putting themselves down"? Would that work?
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    Yeah, there are expressions like "put/run someone down" and "sell someone short," but I'd say these are associated with assessments that are unfair. In other words, if I put myself down, I wouldn't simply be discussing my weaknesses, I'd be doing it in an unkind or even cruel manner.
    to dismiss, reject, or humiliate — WRF dictionary
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We're not really talking about opposites here. "Tooting one's horn" (not a BrE expression but one that I understand all the same) is something that one does of one's own volition, whereas in your scenario, susanna, people are asked to talk about the negative aspects of their personalities/lives.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If "tooting their horn" implies disapproval, then we need an 'opposite' that also implies disapproval. Simply responding to a request to talk about one's own shortcomings won't draw disapproval. False modesty might produce a little disapproval, but there would be real disapproval of the person who said: "I don't possess any shortcomings". A term for that? "Conceit", I'd say.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    For me tooting (or blowing in BE) one's own horn doesn't mean 'talking about one's good qualities'. It means (as Parla says) 'bragging about oneself'. It's possible for complete planks who are devoid of any good qualities ~ such as humility ~ to do it. In fact the kinds of people who blow their own horns are quite often complete planks, in my experience:)

    I also agree with Parla that it sounds like a lousy party game.

    Mind you, so does people talking about their good qualities:cool:
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    In AE there is the expression "telling on yourself". This involves confessing to weaknesses, bad behavior or unacceptable thoughts or opinions. I suppose you could use that expression, but I don't think you will find many willing participants.
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    I guess I don't agree with Parla and ewie (a dubious undertaking at best) that tooting one's own horn necessarily connotes bragging. I'd say it's simply talking about one's achievements or good qualities. The opposite of that would be taking about one's failures or shortcomings.

    Another possibility is "to spill one's guts":
    [AE and AusE] to tell someone all about yourself, especially your problems — Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    If you have a scene at a party where people are asked to mention the negative aspects of their personalities/lives, what would be a good idiom to use to describe it? Something that's the opposite of "tooting their horn."
    I've thought of another casual phrase that is used to describe this: busting yourself. It's basically the same as telling on yourself but less dated. :)
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    "Telling on yourself/thrmselves" an "busting yourself/themselves" sound good to me. I also appreciate all your comments in this thread. Thank you so much!
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Really? I thought sharing was about things in general, good and bad. This party game from Notting Hill was designed to have people share only their shortcomings.
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    >>I thought sharing was about things in general, good and bad.

    I think Beryl is saying that AA uses "sharing" to describe part of its work. A page on the organization's website (How to Conduct a Sharing Session) notes that these meetings …
    are usually held where a problem has reached difficult proportions at the service level involved, and options to surmount the challenge need to be thought about.
    This seems to be something different.

    Wikipedia's page on the group's history indicates that …
    The basic program had developed from the works of William James, Dr. Silkworth, and the Oxford Group. … [There are] six basic steps, [including making] "a moral inventory of our defects or sins" and "confess[ing] or shar[ing] our shortcomings with another person in confidence."
    That last part again seems to be inconsistent with the idea here. On the other hand, that same page contains a reference to "sharing witness (public confession)" as one of the fundamental "AA concepts." I figure this is what led Beryl to point to sharing as a possible answer to your enquiry.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks, as ever, for the research, gramman. That is the kind of thing I had in mind. Coincidentally (or is it ironically?), the only AA meeting I've ever attended was in Notting Hill.

    I would say that 'sharing' (or 'to share'), in this rather limited context, is something approximating a euphemism.

    The coinage has escaped the confines of the meetings, and is often used sarcastically in 'thanks for sharing', which I would interpret as meaning, 'we regret your most recent contribution, and rest assured that it has reduced your standing among our little peer group'.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top