wash (one's) dirty linen in public

(redirected from washed their dirty linen in public)

wash (one's) dirty linen in public

To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be embarrassing, in public or with other people. It always makes me uncomfortable when John starts going into all his personal problems whenever our friends get together. I just wish he wouldn't wash his dirty linen in public like that. People have an unnatural fixation on the personal lives of celebrities, but I don't see why they should be expected to wash their dirty linen in public.
See also: dirty, linen, public, wash

wash your dirty linen in public

mainly BRITISH or

wash your dirty laundry in public

mainly BRITISH or

air your dirty linen in public

mainly AMERICAN or

air your dirty laundry in public

mainly AMERICAN
COMMON If someone washes their dirty linen in public or washes their dirty laundry in public, they talk publicly about unpleasant matters that should be private. We shouldn't wash our dirty laundry in public and if I was in his position, I'd say nothing at all. She thinks she can score points by airing the family's dirty linen in public. Note: There are many other variations of this expression. For example, you can leave out `in public' or `dirty'. In Spain, it seems, airing dirty linen is considered more serious than any offence itself. My brother has washed that linen in public and embarrassed me. Note: You can also just talk about dirty linen or dirty laundry to mean unpleasant facts that should remain private. We know much more than we ever did before about the doings of Congressmen. So, we're seeing more dirty laundry. It is certainly a huge disadvantage of being famous that everyone wants to see your dirty linen.
See also: dirty, linen, public, wash

wash your dirty linen in public

discuss or argue about your personal affairs in public.
This expression dates from the early 19th century in English; a similar French expression about linge sale is attributed to Napoleon.
See also: dirty, linen, public, wash

wash your dirty linen in ˈpublic

(British English, disapproving) talk or write about unpleasant or embarrassing private difficulties in public: Nobody must mention these problems at the meeting. I don’t want our dirty linen washed in public.
In this idiom, linen refers to clothes, especially underwear.
See also: dirty, linen, public, wash