make a clean breast
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- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈmeɪk ə ˈkliːn bɹɛst/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈmeɪk ə ˈklin bɹɛst/
Audio (AU) (file)
- (idiomatic) Often followed by of: to be honest about something; to confess.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:confess
- 1753 October, “Extracts from the Trial of James Stewart, […]”, in The Scots Magazine. […], volume XV, Edinburgh: Printed by W. Sands, A. Murray, and J. Cochran, OCLC 810532611, page 508:
- He preſſed him earneſtly to make a clean breaſt, and tell him all he knew of [Colin Roy Campbell of] Glenure's murder. To which Breck [i.e., Alan Breck Stewart] anſwered with an oath, that he had never ſeen Glenure dead or alive.
- 1873, Jules Verne, “The Gulf Stream”, in [anonymous], transl., Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas; […], James R. Osgood edition, Boston, Mass.: Geo[rge] M[urray] Smith & Co., OCLC 197673812, part II, page 278:
- "Master," he said that day to me, "this must come to an end. I must make a clean breast of it. This Nemo is leaving land and going up to the north. But I declare to you that I have had enough of the South Pole, and I will not follow him to the North."
- 1886 January 5, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Last Night”, in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 762755901, page 78:
- 'It is well, then, that we should be frank,' said the other. 'We both think more than we have said; let us make a clean breast. This masked figure that you saw, did you recognise it?'
- 1906 January–October, Joseph Conrad, chapter X, in The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale, London: Methuen & Co., […], published 1907, OCLC 270548466; The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (Collection of British Authors; 3995), copyright edition, Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1907, OCLC 1107573959, page 219:
- You know no doubt that most criminals at some time or other feel an irresistible need of confessing—of making a clean breast of it to somebody—to anybody.
- 1915 August–September, John Buchan, “The Milkman Sets Out on His Travels”, in The Thirty-Nine Steps, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, published October 1915, OCLC 1051118029, page 38:
- I had lied to Paddock about him, and the whole thing looked desperately fishy. If I made a clean breast of it and told the police everything he had told me, they would simply laugh at me.
- 2003, Tom DeMarco; Timothy Lister, “The Case for Risk Management”, in Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects, New York, N.Y.: Dorset House Publishing, published 2013, →ISBN, part I (Why), page 30:
- Instead, imagine that a software project manager approaches you and makes a clean breast of his uncertainty about your proposed project: "Look, there are unknowns here, and we have catalogued the following eleven of them."
to be honest about something — see confess