skeleton in the closet

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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.
See also: closet, skeleton

skeleton(s) in the closet

a hidden and shocking secret. You can ask anyone about how reliable I am. I don't mind. I don't have any skeletons in the closet. My uncle was in jail for a day once. That's our family's skeleton in the closet.
See also: closet, skeleton

skeleton in the closet

A shameful secret, as in Both her parents were alcoholics; that was the skeleton in her closet. This metaphoric term alludes to a murder victim long concealed in a closet, possibly based on some true incident that is now forgotten. [Early 1800s]
See also: closet, skeleton

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?

skeleton in the closet, the

A shameful secret. This term likens a family secret to a murder victim hidden away in a closet or cupboard. If it ever was based on such an incident, the history has been lost. In any event, the metaphor became current in the early nineteenth century. Thackeray used it in several novels, as did Dickens, George Meredith, and other nineteenth-century British writers, and it remains current.
See also: skeleton

skeleton in the closet

A hidden shame. As if hiding a murder victim or another object that would cause great distress to the hider if found, to have a skeleton in the closet is to have a secret of any sort that you don't want revealed.
See also: closet, skeleton
References in periodicals archive ?
Skeleton in the Closet: Shut down the federal government in 1995 because Bill Clinton made him use the back door of Air Force One.
Skeleton in the Closet: Was one of the Keating Five.
Skeleton in the Closet: Not his fault, but one-third of Americans say they won't vote for a Mormon.
A Skeleton in the Closet: Remembering My Spirit is available in bookstores and through
The evening's program, titled A Skeleton in the Closet," opened on the Venezuelan performer known as Daffy Duck, whose naked torso and hoop skirt provide the screen onto which slides of textiles and art are projected.