a skeleton in the closet
skeleton in the/(one's) closet
An embarrassing or shameful secret. Primarily heard in US. If you've got a skeleton in the closet, it will probably be exposed during this campaign. He didn't believe me when I said that I didn't have any skeletons in my closet.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a skeleton in the closetBRITISH, AMERICAN or
a skeleton in the cupboardBRITISH
COMMON If someone has a skeleton in the closet or a skeleton in the cupboard, they have a secret that would cause great embarrassment or shame if other people knew about it. But everybody's got vices, haven't they? There's always a skeleton in the closet somewhere. Note: This expression is variable. Show me somebody with no skeletons in their cupboard, and I'll show you a skilful liar.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a skeleton in the ˈcupboard/ˈclosetsomething shocking, embarrassing, etc. that has happened to you or your family in the past that you want to keep secret: The new presidential candidate is certainly popular, but does he have any skeletons in the closet?
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