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bare (one's) breast

1. To expose oneself in a vulnerable or unguarded position, especially to that which may cause harm or distress. I bare my breast to you, so do as you will. I am at your mercy! He bared his breast to the armed guards to show that he was not a threat.
2. To share with another person one's private emotions and thoughts, especially those that are emotionally troubling or make oneself vulnerable to the other person in some way. I bared my breast to Samantha and told her how much I loved her.
See also: bare, breast

make a clean breast

To confess one's misdeeds or wrongdoings. I felt so guilty about cheating on the test that I had to make a clean breast of it to my teacher.
See also: breast, clean, make

beat (one's) breast

To publicly express emotions or views that one does not actually feel or support. During election season, all the candidates beat their breasts about how much they love our communities—and then they get into office and slash community initiatives.
See also: beat, breast

make a clean breast of something (to someone)

Fig. to admit something to someone. You should make a clean breast of the matter to someone. You'll feel better if you make a clean breast of the incident.
See also: breast, clean, make, of

keep abreast of

Stay or cause to stay up-to-date with, as in He's keeping abreast of the latest weather reports, or Please keep me abreast of any change in his condition. This term alludes to the nautical sense of abreast, which describes ships keeping up with each other. [Late 1600s]
See also: abreast, keep, of

make a clean breast of

Confess fully, as in Caught shoplifting, the girls decided to make a clean breast of it to their parents. This expression, first recorded in 1752, uses clean breast in the sense of baring of one's heart, the breast long considered the seat of private or secret feelings.
See also: breast, clean, make, of

beat your breast


beat your chest

COMMON If someone beats their breast or beats their chest, they publicly show regret or anger about something that has happened. At this month's meeting of the party's Central Committee, the party leader beat his breast with ritual self-criticism. Why don't you both stop beating your chests and do something productive? Note: You can describe the action of doing this as breast-beating or chest-beating. His breast-beating on behalf of the working classes always seemed false to me. Note: You usually use these expressions to suggest that the person is not being sincere but is trying to draw attention to himself or herself.
See also: beat, breast

make a clean breast of something

If you make a clean breast of something, you tell the whole truth about it. `But what shall I tell my parents?' — `You'll have to make a clean breast of it, dear.' If you make a clean breast of your problems, creditors are much more likely to deal fairly with you.
See also: breast, clean, make, of, something

beat your breast

make a great show of sorrow or regret.
See also: beat, breast

make a clean breast of something (or of it)

confess your mistakes or wrongdoings.
In former times, many people believed that the breast or chest was where a person's conscience was located. The breast is still used metaphorically to represent the seat of the emotions.
See also: breast, clean, make, of, something

make a clean ˈbreast of something

admit fully something that you have done wrong: He decided to make a clean breast of it and tell the police.
See also: breast, clean, make, of, something

make a clean breast of

To confess fully.
See also: breast, clean, make, of
References in classic literature ?
muttered Roderick to himself, as he shook his head, and pressed his hands with a more convulsive force upon his breast, "I feel him still.
We are now on a level with the precipitous chain, or wall of lava, linking the two Breasts, and the view is glorious.
Full upon the breast of the painted savage the great beast struck, burying sharp talons in the black flesh and sinking great yellow fangs in the ebon throat.
Speaking to him with her eyes lifted up to his, and with the hand that had lately rested on his sleeve trembling by touching one of the roses in his breast as an additional appeal to him, she said:
Dames of elevated rank, likewise, whose doors she entered in the way of her occupation, were accustomed to distil drops of bitterness into her heart; sometimes through that alchemy of quiet malice, by which women can concoct a subtle poison from ordinary trifles; and sometimes, also, by a coarser expression, that fell upon the sufferer's defenceless breast like a rough blow upon an ulcerated wound.
In accomplishing this the ape was tearing away the entire front of its breast, which was held in the vise-like grip of the powerful jaws.
With a beating heart Violet folded her fading wreath more closely to her breast, and with weary wings flew onward to the dreary palace.
They are taking counsel, saith this letter, to send over a governor-general, in whose breast shall be deposited all the law and equity of the land.
He put the heart in the Woodman's breast and then replaced the square of tin, soldering it neatly together where it had been cut.
And all the way Kala carried her little dead baby hugged closely to her breast.
You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn.
With his hands joined upon his breast, his face turned towards the window, bathed by the fresh air of night, which brought upon its wings the aroma of the flowers and the woods, Athos entered, never again to come out of it, into the contemplation of that paradise which the living never see.
After that they took his right hand, placed it on something, and told him to hold a pair of compasses to his left breast with the other hand and to repeat after someone who read aloud an oath of fidelity to the laws of the Order.
No, Father, I may not go yet, for the England I have been taught to hate I have learned to love, and I have it not in my heart to turn loose upon her fair breast the beasts of hell who know no law or order or decency other than that which I enforce.
Finally the gorgeous jewel of the order, gleaming upon the breast of every member, suggested "your Badgesty," which was adopted, and the order became popularly known as the Kings of Catarrh.