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- (idiomatic) To confess; admit the truth.
- 1921, B. M. Bower, chapter 6, in Sawtooth Ranch:
- "You better come clean, Swan, and tell the whole thing. What was it? Don't talk in circles."
- 1977 Oct. 23, John Gardner, "The World Of Tolkien," New York Times (retrieved 12 Sept 2013):
- Perhaps it is only fair to come clean at the start and confess that I found J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales a disappointment.
- 2005 August 8, "Quotes of the Day," Time (retrieved 12 Sept 2013):
- When the sub got stuck, the brass kept the fact under wraps for 32 hours before Russia came clean and asked for foreign help.