skeleton in the closet

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skeleton in the closet (plural skeletons in the closet)

  1. (US, idiomatic) A shameful secret.
    • 1913 Eleanor Porter: Pollyanna: Chapter 9:
      "Humph!" she vouchsafed. Then, showing her old-time interest, she went on: "But, say, it is queer, his speakin' to you, honestly, Miss Pollyanna. He don't speak ter no one; and he lives all alone in a great big lovely house all full of jest grand things, they say. Some says he's crazy, and some jest cross; and some says he's got a skeleton in his closet."