read between the lines

When you read between the lines, you understand something that’s not said outright. If your mom calls every day to remind you not to make a fuss on Mother’s Day, read between the lines to know you better get some flowers.

Your English teacher's comments on your short story might be diplomatic, but when you read between the lines, you can tell that he wasn't impressed by the fact that your main character was a unicorn. This phrase is always used figuratively today, but experts believe that it originates from a method of hiding secret messages within another text, possibly by using disappearing ink or codes — literally placing them between the lines.

Definitions of read between the lines
  1. verb
    read what is implied but not expressed on the surface
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    type of:
    construe, interpret, see
    make sense of; assign a meaning to
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