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QUICK QUOTE

Idiom

Wash Your Dirty Laundry in Public: Origin and Meaning

Meaning
To talk to other people or in front of other people about personal things that should be kept private. You can also say “wash your dirty linen in public” and in America they use “air your dirty laundry/linen in public”.
Origin
wash your dirty laundry in publicThis expression was translated and amended from a French proverb: “Il faut laver son linge sale en famille” (“we should wash our dirty linen in private”). Napoleon quoted this in 1815 when he returned from the island of Elba after escaping. It was first used in English in 1867 by Anthony Trollope.
Examples
“My mum always told me not to wash my dirty laundry in public so I only discuss private things at home.”

“I don’t understand why people go on talk shows and wash all their dirty linen in public.”

Kevin: “Tell me about the argument you had with Katie last night.”
Adam: “I can’t talk about it, sorry. Katie hates it when I wash our dirty laundry in public.”

“They were arguing all night in the restaurant. Why do they always air their dirty linen in public? It’s so embarrassing.”
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