Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Sailing under False Colours.

 Sail before the Wind (To).Sailing within the Wind or Sailing close to the Wind. 
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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Sailing under False Colours.
 
Pretending to be what you are not. The allusion is to pirate vessels, which hoist any colours to elude detection.   1
 


 Sail before the Wind (To).Sailing within the Wind or Sailing close to the Wind. 

 
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