[Idiom] Picking on somebody without mentioning their name

beachboy

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Is there an idiom or expression in English that means picking on somebody by humorously (or not) exposing what they have done without mentioning their name? Something like: "As you know, guys, there's somebody here who totally forgot my birthday last year, and...."
 

emsr2d2

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In BrE, you'll hear "As you know, there's a person here, who shall remain nameless, who forgot my birthday last year ...".
 

beachboy

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In BrE, you'll hear "As you know, there's a person here, who shall remain nameless, who forgot my birthday last year ...".

Is it what they call "to drop a hint"?
 

emsr2d2

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Hmm, it depends. The person would only "drop a hint" if, at the same time as saying those words, they looked directly and very pointedly at the "nameless" person.
 

beachboy

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Hmm, it depends. The person would only "drop a hint" if, at the same time as saying those words, they looked directly and very pointedly at the "nameless" person.


Ah, that's it! ;-)

But can this expression be used humorously? And can't I ever drop a hint in a whatsapp group, for example? If I do it virtually, what would the expression be?
 

andrewg927

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You can drop a hint in a whatsapp group, text messages, emails, virtually anything.
 

beachboy

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What if somebody in a group drops a hint, the shoe fits, I feel teased and I want to confirm my impression? What would a typical reply be? "Did you drop this hint for me"?
 

emsr2d2

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There isn't a standard or typical response. I might say "My ears are burning!" - that's an expression used when you think/feel that someone is talking about you even though you can't actually hear them. Equally, I might say, sarcastically "I really have absolutely no idea who you could possibly be talking about!"
 

andrewg927

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I probably would take a more upfront approach. If I'm not sure the remark is directed at me, I would ask something like "wait, is this about me?" But if I'm sure, I would say "You don't have to be so obvious." It all depends and like ems said, there is no typical response.
 

JMurray

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What if somebody in a group drops a hint, the shoe fits, I feel teased and I want to confirm my impression? What would a typical reply be? "Did you drop this hint for me"?

Even when the exchange is by text, a natural phrase might be "I guess you're looking at me (when you say that)?", or conversely "I hope you're not looking at me when you say that".

There is a humorous response that I think relates to this type of situation. Sometimes when a negative observation or something similar is made about a person and the target feels that there may be some truth in it, they might respond jokingly with, "I resemble that remark". It's a play on the phrase "I resent that remark", which would of course be a complete rejection of the observation. So, it has the tone of a rejection but is actually an amused acceptance.

Not a teacher.
 
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