wash one's dirty linen in public

(redirected from air one's dirty linen)

wash (one's) dirty linen in public

To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be sensitive or embarrassing, in public or with other people. It always makes me uncomfortable when John starts going into all his personal problems whenever our friends get together. I just wish he wouldn't wash his dirty linen in public like that. People have an unnatural fixation on the personal lives of celebrities, but I don't see why they should be expected to wash their dirty linen in public.
See also: dirty, linen, public, wash

wash one's dirty linen in public

Also air one's dirty linen or laundry . Expose private matters to public view, especially unsavory secrets. These metaphors are reworkings of a French proverb, Il faut laver son linge sale en famille ("One should wash one's dirty linen at home"), which was quoted by Napoleon on his return from Elba (1815). It was first recorded in English in 1867.
See also: dirty, linen, public, wash

wash one's dirty linen in public, to

To expose one’s private affairs in public, particularly any unsavory family secrets. This metaphor is a French proverb that became famous when Napoleon used it in a speech before the French Assembly upon his return from exile in Elba in 1815. It was picked up by numerous English writers, among them Trollope, who wrote (The Last Chronicle of Barset, 1867), “There is nothing, I think, so bad as washing one’s dirty linen in public.”
See also: dirty, linen, wash