The big reveal

Nouning and underwear, together at last! Brought together by the Undergear people:

Literally revealing everything. With some play on the word big as well.

These days the big reveal is all over the place, in a range of senses of the noun reveal —  ‘disclosure, announcement, unveiling’ — related to the various senses of the verb reveal.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, some notes on the garment in the Undergear ad, the Extreme® Fishnet Wrestler, seen here in black. A wrestler is a wrestling singlet, a one-piece garment worn by wrestlers in competition, or, in this case, by hot guys wrestling in the bedroom. (Fishnet is a poor fabric choice for the wresling mat.) The advertising text:

The big reveal. Make an ultra-sexy style statement in this one-of-a-kind men’s wrestler, new to the Extreme Fishnet collection. Designed to highlight every contour of your body in the softest nylon/spandex mesh, this provocative men’s wrestler adds a barely-there layer of coverage for a flattering fit. Available in black or white, this Extreme men’s wrestler features solid knit trim and classic racerback-style straps, perfect for showing off all your best wrestling moves. [$29]

Now for the nouning reveal. OED2 has it, glossed ‘a revealing, revelation, disclosure’, with cites from 1629, 1646, and 1858 — but marked “rare”. But as Mark Liberman pointed out on Language Log in 2004 and I noted on this blog in 2009, it’s rare no more, at least in certain contexts: it’s quite common in media contexts (especially tv and movies), for the disclosure of a plot point.

An ADS-L discussion in November 2011 expanded the contexts for the noun reveal, to stagecraft and magic, advertising, and public relations. Garson O’Toole found this 1964 p.r. example:

At the climax, scenery and singers melted away and there ˜ swathed in lights on a revolving stage stood the 1964 Oldsmobile. The magic moment, as essential to auto shows as horses are to Westerns, is known in the trade as the “reveal.” Properly done, it can make even the most cynical pedestrian weep.

This takes us into ‘unveiling’ territory, though still in the media domain. Then Jon Lighter (on 11/9/11) supplied an example outside of this domain:

English archaeologist on a National Geographic Channel show about the recently uncovered Anglo-Saxon gold hoard: “When you’re working on [cleaning] an object, it’s amazing when you get the reveal.”

Meanwhile, as Mark Liberman had noted earlier, the big reveal was spreading rapidly as a fixed expression; he found a big expansion between 2002 and 2004. And now a Google search on {“a big reveal”} nets over 3 million raw hits. These mostly can be glossed as ‘disclosure’, ‘announcement’, or ‘unveiling’. Some are in a media context, as in this tv show:

The Big Reveal is a mix of HGTV makeover shows cut down to give you the parts you like most — the amazing before-and-afters with all the great design ideas and tips! (link)

And here:

Underbelly’s sister show, The Big Reveal, features six comedians, authors and regular people telling true stories of the events that have shaped their lives. The stories featured at The Big Reveal might be hilarious, heartbreaking, or a little of both. No matter what the tone of their stories might be, our storytellers are always intelligent, compelling, and inspiring. (link)

Samsung March 22 event smells of Galaxy S III reveal
We already know that Samsung won’t be showing off its newest Galaxy S-numbered phone at the hyped Mobile World Congress (MWC) later this month. The MWC, which takes place in Spain, will play host to a number of other Samsung announcements, but the company wanted to make the Galaxy S III something that was reserved for a more exclusive event. Now, it looks like that even will also be held in Europe and will happen on March 22.
… Earlier today, there were rumors that surfaced, pegging the smartphone with a May release date. So in order to build the right amount of hype, a March 22 event unveiling sounds just about right. (link) [‘unveiling’, reported by Victor Steinbok on ADS-L this morning]

But the big reveal has leaked out of the media domain, as in these examples:

“The Big Reveal” THURSDAY JULY 23, 2009 of the title, color, and cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4  (link) [‘disclosure’]

The Big Reveal at Dumbo’s 220 Water Street
Last night a preview party was held at 220 Water Street, the newest addition to the Dumbo rental scene. (link) [unveiling the rental property]

The Big Reveal
Some Super PACs to disclose their donors (link)

The Big Reveal: Announcing the “I Want a New Home” Sweepstakes Winner! (link)

Though the noun reveal served for some time as a term of the trade in the media world, it seems to have spread to other contexts and is now available to describe any disclosure, announcement, or unveiling. It comes with a kind of unspoken “Ta-DAH!”

2 Responses to “The big reveal”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    On ADS-L today, Bill Mullins says:

    Although you can find magicians using “the reveal” as discussed above, it is not particularly common in conjuring circles. (The scriptwriters of “The Prestige” made up a bunch of stuff, including the idea that “the prestige” is a term of art in conjuring. There were many hoots of derision about the jargon of the film in magic forums, etc., when that movie came out, although they got many other details right, probably due to consulting with magician Ricky Jay.)

    Instead, Mullins says, magicians mostly use revelation. Fine, but I merely reported — from others’ postings — that it was used by magicians, not that it was the usual usage.

  2. Alongside the big reveal « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] … is the big conceal. With the nouning conceal ‘act of concealing’, used in contexts where neither concealing nor concealment will quite do. (On the big reveal, see here.) […]

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