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false colors

plural noun
the flag of a country other than one's own, especially when used deceptively:
sailing under false colors.
false or deceptive actions or statements; misrepresentation.
Origin of false colors
1565-75, for literal sense

false color

photography using infrared-sensitive film that produces images in which heat-emitting areas or objects appear red.
Related forms
false-color, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Idioms and Phrases with false colors

false colors

Pretense, misrepresentation, or hypocrisy; deceptive statements or actions. For example, She's sailing under false colors—she claims to be a Republican, but endorses Democratic legislation. This term alludes to the practice of pirate ships sailing under false colors—that is, running a particular flag specifically to lure another vessel close enough to be captured. [ Late 1600s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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