Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Meaning of “A Skeleton in The Cupboard” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Meaning of “A Skeleton in The Cupboard” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

A Skeleton in The Cupboard

“There is a skeleton in every home.” -WILLIAM MAKEPEACE TRACEERAY (1845).

There are certain secrets which, though they are a source of constant anxiety to their keepers, are so intimate that they must never be disclosed. Such secrets are known as “skeletons in the cupboard.”

A skeleton is a gruesome thing and is an object of the greatest fear to most mortals. A doctor, being constantly annoyed by the ringing of his door bell by little boys, determined to frighten his tormentors. One night he caught one boy in the act and, taking him into his laboratory, opened a cupboard door and disclosed to the boy’s amazement the remnants of a human skeleton. The boy bolted. Sometime later, needing the services of someone, he opened his door and called to a boy who was passing on the other side of the street. Surprised to see the boy take at once to his heels, he cried: “Hey, my boy, come here; I want. you.” “Oh,” the boy yelled back, “I know you, though you have got your clothes on.”

Our phrase, however, in its real significance, is probably taken from another story. A woman, believed by all her friends to be one of the happiest persons in the world, without a single worry, or cause of discontent, resolved one day to disillusion them. Conducting her friend’s upstairs, she opened a closet and revealed to their astonishment a human skeleton which, she explained, was that of her erstwhile lover and rival of her husband, who had killed him in a duel. She then told them that she had for many years been compelled by her husband to kiss that skeleton every night before retiring to rest. “You think I am happy,” she added sorrowfully, “but my happiness is only an outward show, for I have always this skeleton in my home to keep me company!”

A family’s “skeleton in the cupboard” may be the shameful act of one of its members, or some poverty which their flyblown pride will not permit to be known to the world outside.


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  1. Beatrice says:

    Thanks,these really helped

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