Idiom...Please

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Mehrgan

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Hi everybody,
Could you please tell me the definition to this idiom?
"To sell short on oneself"


Many thanks...
 

emsr2d2

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Hi everybody,
Could you please tell me the definition to this idiom?
"To sell short on oneself"


Many thanks...

I don't know if this is an alternative way of saying it, but I think the idiom is "To sell oneself short".

It means to not give oneself enough credit, or to be overly humble. For instance, if you are a fantastic pianist, someone asks you if you play any musical instruments and you say "Oh, I can play the piano a little bit", you are "selling yourself short"! You have underplayed your talents.

People are sometimes guilty of this when writing their CV/resumé. In order for a CV to really grab the attention of a potential employer, you have to really sell yourself!! If you are too modest about your abilities, then you may be overlooked for a job. So if you don't really make yourself sound amazing and perfect for the job, you have "sold yourself short".

I think it originates in the stock market where I believe "short selling" is a practice, but I have no idea what it means!
 

Mehrgan

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I don't know if this is an alternative way of saying it, but I think the idiom is "To sell oneself short".

It means to not give oneself enough credit, or to be overly humble. For instance, if you are a fantastic pianist, someone asks you if you play any musical instruments and you say "Oh, I can play the piano a little bit", you are "selling yourself short"! You have underplayed your talents.

People are sometimes guilty of this when writing their CV/resumé. In order for a CV to really grab the attention of a potential employer, you have to really sell yourself!! If you are too modest about your abilities, then you may be overlooked for a job. So if you don't really make yourself sound amazing and perfect for the job, you have "sold yourself short".

I think it originates in the stock market where I believe "short selling" is a practice, but I have no idea what it means!


So many thanks for the reply. In the first section you mentioned that some may underplay their talent. Some people do so in order to be polite, especially if they're among others and feel they might think he was bragging about their abilities. Can this idiom (or any other one you might know of) be used in such a positive context? Thanks a lot in advance.
 

emsr2d2

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So many thanks for the reply. In the first section you mentioned that some may underplay their talent. Some people do so in order to be polite, especially if they're among others and feel they might think he was bragging about their abilities. Can this idiom (or any other one you might know of) be used in such a positive context? Thanks a lot in advance.

"Selling oneself short" and "doing oneself down" are similar but admittedly are a little negative.

The only one that I would think sounds more positive is "to hide one's light under a bushel". That is the kind of thing that someone might say, yes, if you were simply trying to politely avoid bragging/showing off!

With the pianist example, once the pianist had said "Oh, I play the piano a little bit", someone else who knows the truth might say "Oh, he's hiding his light under a bushel. He's an absolutely amazing pianist". The pianist would probably blush a little, and then own up to being rather good!
 
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