Meaning of Idiom
Tell (someone, something) Apart: to be able to distinguish one thing or person from another; to see the difference between two things or two people. 1Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.,2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
Tell apart is usually used with can or cannot as in “I can easily tell the twins apart, but I’ve known them all my life.”
Examples Of Use
“I can’t tell most of these new cars apart.”
“The Wilson twins were so identical that Lisa was allowed to wear a hat in class so the teacher could tell her apart from Laura.”
Used since the first half of the 1900’s 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
Tell in this idiom is used in the sense of to determine, discern, identify, understand, etc.
More Idioms Starting with T
- Take Your Lumps
- Throw Down the Gauntlet
- Till the Cows Come Home
- Think Twice
- There’s No Accounting for Tastes
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