come clean

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come clean

To admit something to someone, often regarding a wrongdoing that one has tried to hide. We have to come clean with the police before Joe gets punished for our crime! The kids finally came clean about eating the cookies I'd made for the bake sale.
See also: clean, come
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

come clean (with someone) (about something)

Fig. to be honest with somebody about something. I want you to come clean with me about your financial status. Sam will come clean with me. I know he will.
See also: clean, come
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

come clean

Confess everything, as in If you come clean about what happened I will promise to keep it to myself. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: clean, come
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

come clean

COMMON If you come clean about something, you tell the truth about it. I had expected her to come clean and confess that she only wrote these books for the money. It is now time for the Government to come clean, tell the world exactly how the recent tragedy happened and announce an investigation.
See also: clean, come
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

come clean

be completely honest and frank. informal
See also: clean, come
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

come ˈclean (with somebody) (about something)

(informal) tell the truth about something, especially after lying or keeping it secret: I’ll come clean with you — I’ve been reading your mail.He finally came clean and confessed.
See also: clean, come
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

come clean

verb
See also: clean, come
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

come clean

To confess all.
See also: clean, come
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

come clean, to

To tell the whole truth, to confess. A slangy Americanism dating from the early twentieth century, it most often appeared in crime novels and pertained to confessing guilt. Listed in a collection of argot published in 1919, the term became a cliché through its overuse in murder mysteries. P. G. Wodehouse played on it in Sam the Sudden (1925): “You’d best come clean, Soapy, and have a showdown.”
See also: come
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
We'll never know what happened unless he comes clean ANDREW FURLONG
Marlon (Mark Charnock) breaks down and comes clean to Donna about his role in the robbery.
Tracy comes clean to Charlie about her plan to make everyone think he's an abusive boyfriend.
My advice is to bin them until he comes clean about Guppygate.
Len comes clean to Sandy, admitting that he misses Pearl despite everything she put him through.
After trying to frame lover Steve McDonald for a fatal hit and run accident, she comes clean.
Yesterday Labour chair Hazel Blears said: "We welcome the end of Cameron's use of wealthy financial backers and hope the Tory party comes clean on those anonymous business groups bankrolling the Party and candidates."
Summer comes clean to Max (Stephen Lovatt) about Boyd and Janae's wedding and his furious reaction threatens their plans.
Later in the series, David Mitchell comes clean about his unholy love of Terry and June, Bill Bailey laments The Last Night of The Proms and Nick Hancock confesses that, these days, he doesn't do much else but sit in front of the telly.
AN MP has demanded the Royal Mail comes clean and names the rural Scots post offices which are earmarked for closure.
Then he finally comes clean and asks Mo if they can be together but her response is drowned out by a passing train.
FURIOUS Labour chiefs are gunning for Finance Minister Tom McCabe, demanding he comes clean over plans to axe 1,000 jobs.
He comes clean to Raith Rovers and Forrest that he was behind the malicious joke, although tries to claim it was his pal after he told them it was him.
Leo looks set to get out of jail after Billy's widow finally comes clean to Sgt Byrne about the murder of her husband and reveals she lied in the dock to protect her son.