come clean, to

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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 ?
Mr Furlong does not expect Hinds to come clean and said he could never forgive him, if found guilty, unless he apologises.
It's not fair on you to keep your relationship under wraps so tell him that unless he's willing to come clean and declare you're an item the affair is over.
She is still having trouble coming clean to loser-in-love Mike (Seamus Moran) but Mags (Joan Brosnan-Walsh) urges her to come clean.
She finally decides to come clean and tells devastated husband Jack (Scott Maslen) Tommy is not their son.
DAVID Cameron will today face top-level pressure to come clean over secretive business groups bankrolling the Tories.