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 ?
The Coming Clean campaign is also raising the alarm about the use of phthalates in many cosmetics, since these chemicals have been linked to birth defects in animals.
WE'RE disappointed if unsurprised the Coalition is rowing back on coming clean on the wealth of the David Cameron's Cabinet of millionaires.
I LOVE the way no one on Emmerdale is coming clean about what size Kelly Windsor is supposed to be (size zero) for fear of starting an anorexia epidemic among teenage viewers.
Tristram Ricketts deserves plenty of credit (though he's unlikely to need any) for coming clean - 'in the interests of transparency' - over his salary and benefits package of pounds 215,344.
It did take a lot of pushing to persuade him to the merits of coming clean.
The Provos tried to clean up their image by coming clean over at least some of the Disappeared - and it appears loyalists are also trying to make a break with the past.
Prezza was under fire after coming clean about a two-year fling with his secretary Tracey Temple.
Your marriage is built on a tissue of lies and you must start thinking about her needs and feelings instead of your own, even if this means throwing yourself on her mercy and coming clean about your sexuality.
Teri says she is coming clean because she is finished with injections and now intends to grow old gracefully.
The MPs accused Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon of not coming clean about intelligence misgivings.
The MPs additionally accused Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon of not coming clean about the use of intelligence in a dossier.