have (a) skeleton(s) in (one's)/the closet

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have (a) skeleton(s) in (one's)/the closet

To have (an) embarrassing, unpleasant, damaging, or incriminating secret(s) from one's past. Primarily heard in US. Even the most seemingly perfect people have some pretty shocking skeletons in their closets. She has a skeleton in her closet that could ruin her chance at the presidency if the press were to find out about it. My agoraphobia has always been something of a skeleton in the closet for me.
See also: closet, have
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