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Nov 2, 2011
This week's theme
Fabric words used metaphorically

This week's words
chintzy
pinstriped
dirty linen
flannelmouth
crapehanger

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

dirty linen

PRONUNCIATION:
(DUHR-tee LIN-uhn)

MEANING:
noun: Private matters that could be embarrassing if made public.

ETYMOLOGY:
Linen is a fabric made of flax. Earlier linen was used for undergarments, hence the idiom: to wash (or air) one's dirty linen in public. The word linen is from Latin linum (flax) from which we also have lingerie, via French linge (linen). Sometimes the phrase dirty laundry is used in place of dirty linen. Earliest documented use: 1840.

USAGE:
"In a lurid High Court case, the dirty linen was dragged out in spectacular fashion. Dorothy Dennistoun claimed her husband had forced her into having the affair with General Cowans."
Christopher Wilson; Dark Past of the Real Downton Abbey Duchess; The Telegraph (London, UK); Aug 9, 2011.

See more usage examples of dirty linen in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war. -Otto von Bismarck, statesman (1815-1898)

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