cupboard

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cupboard is bare

1. Literally, there is no or very little food in the house. Often pluralized. I wish I had something to offer you to eat, but we haven't done our grocery shopping this week, and I'm afraid the cupboards are bare.
2. By extension, resources—especially money—are very tight or nonexistent. Often pluralized. The government has promised to help alleviate the strain on those out of work, but I don't know how it will accomplish that when its own cupboards are bare. The school district's cupboard is bare after federal funding was cut by 20%.
See also: bare, cupboard

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

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

skeleton in the/(one's) cupboard

An embarrassing or shameful secret. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. If you've got a skeleton in the cupboard, 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 cupboard.
See also: cupboard, skeleton

cupboard love

Love that is ultimately motivated by greed. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Ever since I won the lottery, I worry that any woman who expresses a romantic interest in me will just be a case of cupboard love.
See also: cupboard, love

cupboard is bare, the

The desired resources are not available, as in The schools are asking for a budget increase but the cupboard is bare. This metaphoric expression may have come from the nursery rhyme: "Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a bone, And when she went there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none" (Sarah Catherine Martin, The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard, 1805).
See also: cupboard

the cupboard is bare

If the cupboard is bare, everything has been used and there is nothing available. The cost of supporting these countries means that the international community's cupboard is bare.
See also: bare, cupboard

cupboard love

BRITISH
You use cupboard love to mean the insincere affection that children or animals show to someone who they think will give them what they want. My kids give me such a lovely welcome when they see me, I don't care if it is cupboard love. Note: The idea here is that cupboards often contain food or something else that a child or animal might want to have.
See also: cupboard, love

a skeleton in the closet

BRITISH, AMERICAN or

a skeleton in the cupboard

BRITISH
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.
See also: closet, skeleton

a skeleton in the cupboard

a discreditable or embarrassing fact that someone wishes to keep secret.
A US variant of this expression is a skeleton in the closet .
See also: cupboard, skeleton

the ˌcupboard is ˈbare

(British English) used to say that there is no money for something: They are seeking more funds but the cupboard is bare.This expression refers to a children’s nursery rhyme about Old Mother Hubbard, who had nothing in her cupboard to feed her dog.
See also: bare, cupboard

ˈcupboard love

(British English) affection that somebody shows towards somebody else in order to get something: The cat seems especially fond of her, but it’s just cupboard love. She’s the one who feeds him.
Cupboard here refers to food, which is kept in a cupboard, so this idiom originally meant showing love to somebody in order to get food.
See also: cupboard, love

a skeleton in the ˈcupboard/ˈcloset

something 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?
References in classic literature ?
The cupboard door was not locked, so they pushed it open and came out.
And in another minute the disguises were stowed away in the cupboard, the door unbolted, and the two Conspirators seated lovingly side-by-side on the sofa, earnestly discussing a book the Vice-Warden had hastily snatched off the table, which proved to be the City-Directory of the capital of Outland.
But Miss Allan, who was now locking the cupboard door, showed no signs of breaking the reticence which had snowed her under for years.
Haven't I told you, Jarvis, that I wish those cupboards kept locked?
When the Princess got out of her crystal bed in the morning she went to her cabinet, opened one of the velvet-lined cupboards, and took the head it contained from its golden shelf.
By the bed-head stood a rickety cupboard on four feet with a door that continually rattled with a sound like castanets.
The roof was mended, a kitchen maid was found--a crony of the village elder's--hens were bought, the cows began giving milk, the garden hedge was stopped up with stakes, the carpenter made a mangle, hooks were put in the cupboards, and they ceased to burst open spontaneously, and an ironing-board covered with army cloth was placed across from the arm of a chair to the chest of drawers, and there was a smell of flatirons in the maids' room.
Well, the moment the Persian appeared in the doorway, Gabriel gave one jump from his chair to the lock of the cupboard, so as to touch iron
Poyser, in a cutting tone, as she rose and went towards the cupboard while Molly began dolefully to pick up the fragments of pottery.
There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds.
One sprang under the table, the second into the bed, the third into the stove, the fourth into the kitchen, the fifth into the cupboard, the sixth under the washing-bowl, and the seventh into the clock-case.
To get anything out of the cupboard we had to scramble over the bed, and a large percentage of the various commodities thus obtained was absorbed by the bedclothes.
This bureau consists of a double column of drawers, with a central small cupboard between them.
inquired Ojo, standing on a stool so he could look through all the shelves of the cupboard.
You just picked the right evening to visit me," he said, producing a cake from his cupboard.