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Make a clean breast of   /meɪk ə klin brɛst əv/   Listen
Make a clean breast of

verb
1.
Admit or acknowledge a wrongdoing or error.  Synonyms: fess up, own up.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Make a clean breast of" Quotes from Famous Books



... yourself what impression the terrible words I heard produced upon me! For some days my mind has been at work. I ceaselessly tried to picture to myself the details of this lamentable affair; but fearing to stray in my suspicions, I wished to make a clean breast of it, and came to find you. I have grieved you sorely, father; once more, will ...
— Stories of Modern French Novels • Julian Hawthorne

... chose. She arrogated to herself the right because Edward's affairs were in such a frightful state and he lied so about them that she claimed the privilege of having his secrets at her disposal. There was not, indeed, any other way, for the poor fool was too ashamed of his lapses ever to make a clean breast of anything. She had to drag these things out ...
— The Good Soldier • Ford Madox Ford

... you lose, worthy friend, as possibly you will, at Lenoir's pretty games, console yourself by thinking that it is much better for you in the end that you should lose, than that you should win. Let me, for my part, make a clean breast of it, and own that your humble servant did, on one occasion, win a score of Napoleons; and beginning with a sum of no less than five shillings. But until I had lost them again I was so feverish, excited, and uneasy, that I had neither delectation in reading the most exciting French novels, ...
— The Christmas Books • William Makepeace Thackeray

... was a woman, and—well! I'll make a clean breast of it—and because, although a man and woman love each other as long and dearly as Lucia Darro and her husband have and do, there is still something in the woman that the man can not quite understand, and upon which he is forever experimenting. So I was curious to ...
— Trumps • George William Curtis

... I suppose you can have no mercy on a poor fellow who is often hasty and wrong-headed. I will make a clean breast of it. I was charmed with your expression when first aware of your presence, but when you spoke you touched a sore spot. Miss Bodine, you would not be ostracized at the North. You would be treated with the courtesy and cordiality to which every one would see you to be ...
— The Earth Trembled • E.P. Roe

... Mr. Benjamin; or else make a clean breast of it. Send for John Eustace and tell him the whole. For his brother's sake he'll make the best of it. It will all be published, and then, perhaps, there will be an ...
— The Eustace Diamonds • Anthony Trollope

... it is yourself knows better than anyone else that I had nothing to do with it, and I will never forgive you until you make a clean breast of it ...
— With Moore At Corunna • G. A. Henty

... said. "I'll make a clean breast of it. I did see a ghost, and it was that as upset me so. It wasn't the quarrelling frighted me: I thought ...
— Verner's Pride • Mrs. Henry Wood

... tell!" Samson tapped the ashes out of his pipe, and then stretched himself full length upon the ground. "Make a clean breast of it, young man," he encouraged. "I'm an old hardened chap meself, but I do like to hear a real interestin' heart-story once in a while. I git sick an' disgusted listenin' to brutes on two legs, callin' themselves men when they talk about women. But when it comes to a clean young feller, sich ...
— Glen of the High North • H. A. Cody

... a barn, and any one to whom the hare runs can catch him! People ought not to keep their troubles to themselves, but tell them; that's why they have tongues, and yesterday was the right time to make a clean breast of everything that grieves you." ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... matter for the present. Don't say anything about it. Lock up the boat-house, Brian, and keep the key. We'll have Hugo down here after breakfast, and see whether he'll make a clean breast of it." ...
— Under False Pretences - A Novel • Adeline Sergeant

... home about four o'clock. The girls had studied some time as to whether they should make a clean breast of the morning's doings, but Ernest, urged on by ...
— Chicken Little Jane on the Big John • Lily Munsell Ritchie

... incident of the previous night. He loved a touch of mystery and a possibility of romance. Again, it is not the right thing for a guest to open bolted doors. A man does not readily confess to such a breach of etiquette, and his inclination to make a clean breast of it is not increased when it turns out that the door in question leads to the apartments ...
— Captain Dieppe • Anthony Hope

... business—at least so far as Latimer's concerned. You see he either had to explain or else tell me to go to the devil, and as he thought I was a perfectly safe sort of chap to be honest with, he decided to make a clean breast of it. ...
— A Rogue by Compulsion • Victor Bridges

... present to his mind that he always felt as though he were there under false pretences. And this feeling was so uncomfortable that it nerved him to break through the awe-inspiring aloofness of his captain. He wanted to make a clean breast of it. I imagine that his youth stood in good stead to Mr Powell. Oh, yes. Youth is a power. Even Captain Anthony had to take some notice of it, as if it refreshed him to see something untouched, unscarred, unhardened by suffering. Or perhaps the very novelty of that face, on board ...
— Chance - A Tale in Two Parts • Joseph Conrad

... purchased from him by customers who were shortly afterwards found assassinated. It was only after receiving a formal promise that his library should not be dispersed, but preserved in its integrity, that he determined to make a clean breast of it, and confess the details of the crimes that he had committed. In cross-examination, Don Vincente spurned the suggestion that he was a thief, for had he not given back to his victims the money which they had paid ...
— The Book-Hunter in London - Historical and Other Studies of Collectors and Collecting • William Roberts

... exchanged glances, and the girls had to laugh at having been completely fooled by clever Sary Dodd. Then Mr. Brewster thought best to make a clean breast of the entire matter. ...
— Polly of Pebbly Pit • Lillian Elizabeth Roy

... "So I had to make a clean breast of it," continued the plenipotentiary, in a reluctant and apologetic tone. "No use talking. It was impossible to stand to the yarn, when Montgomery's eye was on me—let alone being taken by surprise. It was dragged ...
— Such is Life • Joseph Furphy

... a young ensign, solemnly, "you would do better to make a clean breast of it. Concealment is useless. Janovicz saw you with her in Santa Maria della Salute the other day, and could have followed her home quite easily if he had been ...
— Stories By English Authors: Italy • Various

... the Count suddenly declared, "although I hoped you would not discover it. I might have known. But I suppose it is better to make a clean breast of it now. I have enemies, my friend, and I assure you I do not ...
— The Net • Rex Beach

... himself, as he passed downstairs, "I am just as big a fool as she is. She followed me to make a clean breast of everything, and I send her back with a request to keep her lips sealed. Yet I am angry with her for the risk she ...
— The Stowmarket Mystery - Or, A Legacy of Hate • Louis Tracy

... well," says Hrut; "but still make a clean breast of all the good and all the ill thou ...
— The story of Burnt Njal - From the Icelandic of the Njals Saga • Anonymous

... continued, "He who can say such a thing has no right, then, to wear hair on his face? I shall presently go straight to the barber's. I have been so proud of my manliness! But—repulsed with loss! And, to make a clean breast of it, for an opportunity like this I would gladly remain a foolish youth a long while yet; like silly Jack, you know, in the fairy tale, who is always doing foolish things; but the princess with the blue eyes does not think any the worse of him ...
— The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Masterpieces of German Literature Vol. 19 • Various

... moments been imprudent, and had talked when he should have been silent. The whole matter had been a torment to him. In the first place his conscience made him miserable. As long as it had been possible to prevent the evil he had hoped to make a clean breast of it to Lord Silverbridge. Up to this period of his life everything had been "square" with him. He had betted "square," and had ridden "square," and had run horses "square." He had taken a pride in this, as though it had been a great virtue. It was ...
— The Duke's Children • Anthony Trollope

... am sorry you were in the game at all; but you are in it, and now the best thing is to go to the college and make a clean breast of it to the president. It's your first, you know, and then a fellow just from the woods like us is liable to stumble into bad scrapes. Make a clean breast of it and keep out of ...
— Sustained honor - The Age of Liberty Established • John R. Musick,

... quandary. Her natural straightforwardness urged her to make a clean breast of the whole affair. Had she been the actual transgressor she would certainly have done so and faced the consequences. But this was Percy's secret, not her own. He was no favorite with his aunt, and so outrageous an act would prejudice him fatally in her eyes. The hint about prison ...
— The Luckiest Girl in the School • Angela Brazil

... you've heard that I've done or—or not done? Don't be afraid to hurt my feelings. I'll make a clean breast of it all, if you say so. God knows I was a fool, but I've kept straight since I knew ...
— Through the Wall • Cleveland Moffett

... very fond of a man who admits that he has been in the wrong. It is one of the best things in them. However, in your case, Robert, a confession would not do. The money, if you will allow me to say so, is . . . awkward. Besides, if you did make a clean breast of the whole affair, you would never be able to talk morality again. And in England a man who can't talk morality twice a week to a large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a serious politician. There would be nothing left for ...
— An Ideal Husband - A Play • Oscar Wilde

... a delicate position, and he ought to understand it better. I begin to feel uneasy about the hours they have so often spent together alone; and I make up my mind that this very day I will not play the spy upon them, but speak frankly to Yves, and make a clean breast of it. ...
— Serge Panine • Georges Ohnet

... of it. Ultimately he questioned me, beseechingly, and I was forced to make a clean breast of it ...
— The Rise of David Levinsky • Abraham Cahan

... to put your relations to the blush. To-morrow I shall invest in your name such a sum in five-per-cents as will give you six hundred francs a year; but then you must tell me everything—his Dulcinea's name and residence. To you I will make a clean breast of it.—I never have had a real lady for a mistress, and it is the height of my ambition. Mahomet's houris are nothing in comparison with what I fancy a woman of fashion must be. In short, it is my dream, my mania, and to such a point, that I declare to you the Baroness Hulot to ...
— Cousin Betty • Honore de Balzac

... sharply to time. "You've used your last wet blanket. I've got the evidence that will put you behind the bars. Miss Phyllis wants me to let you off. I can't do it unless you make a clean breast of it. You'll either come through with what I want to know, and do as I say, or you'll have to ...
— Mavericks • William MacLeod Raine

... however, Mr. Garth evidently concluded that the best course was to make a clean breast of it—an expedient which he conceived to be insusceptible of danger, for he could see that the funeral party were already on the brow of the hill. So, with one foot stretched forward as if in the preliminary stage of a hurried ...
— The Shadow of a Crime - A Cumbrian Romance • Hall Caine

... no longer any need, or indeed chance, of concealment, especially with Jenny's eyes fixed on him, Mick thought it best to make a clean breast of it at once. ...
— Young Tom Bowling - The Boys of the British Navy • J.C. Hutcheson

... isn't better than defeat hidden away and disowned, in the hope that something may yet come of it. You may get a truer judgment that way in the end; though at the time it may seem otherwise. Yes, I was tempted to cry it aloud—to make a clean breast of it—to say, "We, the Governments of the People, the Democracies, the Free Nations of the world, have failed— have lost the peace which we could have won, because we would not give up the things which we loved so much better—profit, revenge, our ...
— Angels & Ministers • Laurence Housman

... may as well make a clean breast of the whole affair, which is little enough, mother, even if I didn't cover myself with glory and come out with colors flying. You see I was young and, for all my four years in college, pretty green when it came to the ...
— Flamsted quarries • Mary E. Waller

... "Oh, I'll make a clean breast of it. You've told your affair, and I'll tell mine. I dare say I'll feel all the ...
— The American Baron • James De Mille

... the Lieutenant. "Well, the fact is, boys, that I have been lying to you like—(and here he used a very hard word not necessary to be recorded.) We have all been lying; but to you, at least, I mean to make a clean breast of it. I did not suppose you would come down, and while you kept at a distance I thought we might as well keep up a good reputation. Now that you are here, you have not half an eye if you do not know that 'Camp ...
— Shoulder-Straps - A Novel of New York and the Army, 1862 • Henry Morford

... Mary was placed under strict guard. The story spread quickly through the Hall, and Dawson brought it to me. On hearing it, my first thought was of Madge. I knew it would soon reach her. Therefore I determined to go to her at once and make a clean breast of all my perfidy. Had I done so sooner, I should at least have had the benefit of an honest, voluntary confession; but my conscience had made a coward of me, and the woman who had been my curse for years had so completely disturbed my mind that I should have been quite as well off ...
— Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall • Charles Major

... man come out. He said his father had just taken the house. He SAID he did not know that you lived in the neighbourhood (?). He never suggested giving Eleanor a cup of tea. Dear Lucy, I am much worried, and I advise you to make a clean breast of his past behaviour to your mother, Freddy, and Mr. Vyse, who will forbid him to enter the house, etc. That was a great misfortune, and I dare say you have told them already. Mr. Vyse is so sensitive. I remember how I used to get on his nerves at Rome. I am very sorry about it all, ...
— A Room With A View • E. M. Forster

... would be much better to make a clean breast of it," said Sir Philip. "She will have ...
— Thelma • Marie Corelli

... caught in the act you will have to take your share in the punishment. You are a prisoner of the constables here, and not of mine, and even if I were willing to let you go, they would have their say in the matter. Still, if you make a clean breast of what you know about it, I will do all I can to get you off lightly; and seeing that you are but a boy, and have been, perhaps, led into this, they will not be disposed to be hard on you. Pick up that lantern and bring it here, John; let ...
— When London Burned • G. A. Henty

... this is a hanging matter, but, at any rate, I can promise that you shall not be hung for it. The Duke of Marlborough has taken the matter in hand, and will, I have no doubt, be able to obtain for you some lesser punishment, if you make a clean breast of it. I don't say that you will be let free. You are too dangerous a man for that. But, at any rate, your punishment will not be a heavy one—perhaps nothing worse than agreeing to serve in the army. You understand ...
— A Jacobite Exile - Being the Adventures of a Young Englishman in the Service of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden • G. A. Henty

... only a pretence and that she was temperate in all her habits); in that case she might perhaps be justly subject to annoyances or even to restraint; but who could say whether she was curable or not, until she was able to make a clean breast of her symptoms instead of concealing them? In their eagerness to stamp out disease, these people overshot their mark; for people had become so clever at dissembling—they painted their faces with such consummate skill—they repaired the decay of time ...
— Erewhon • Samuel Butler

... immediately selected as a probable mistress, and I saw her several times vainly try to repress a grimace of disdain and wrath. It was my first impulse to follow Prudence into the kitchen, after the ladies had gone to their rooms, and make a clean breast of the untoward tidings, but I lacked the moral courage and contented myself with an inward show of strength. Why should I pander to this woman's caprices? Was I not master in my own house? Should I not do as I pleased? I would punish her with the severity of my ...
— The Romance of an Old Fool • Roswell Field

... in cold, incisive tones, "let's you and I have this out, and I want to tell you right here that I believe you're lying, and I've been suspecting it for some time. Now, make a clean breast of it. ...
— Felix O'Day • F. Hopkinson Smith

... reason Jack did not tell Marcy of it. If a difficulty arose, he wanted Marcy to be able to say that he did not know a thing about it. But this particular night might be the last one he would ever spend with his brother, and he thought it prudent to make a clean breast of ...
— Marcy The Blockade Runner • Harry Castlemon

... other's jaws and rolled on the ground. What happened then I don't remember; all I remember is that I flew headlong between them into the garden, and home and into my bedroom and almost crept under the bed—why not make a clean breast of it? And what leaps, what bounds I took in the garden! The premiere danseuse dancing before the Emperor Napoleon on his nameday couldn't have kept pace with me. However, when I had recovered myself ...
— Knock, Knock, Knock and Other Stories • Ivan Turgenev

... castle of cards would come tumbling to the ground. While I was thinking of this it struck me all of a heap that there was a chance of something leaking out about the burglar of the other day. The only thing I could see was to make a clean breast of it. ...
— The Lost Valley • J. M. Walsh

... as you did to-day after Olfan left us. Indeed, I do not altogether understand why I have told you this, since it will not interest you very much and may possibly annoy you in your last hours. I suppose it was because I wished to make a clean breast of it before I pass to where we lose all ...
— The People Of The Mist • H. Rider Haggard

... that Jack's face flushed. Fred was silent, but his comrade thought the best course was to make a clean breast of it, and he did so. Hank won the gratitude of the boys by not uttering a word of reproof or showing any displeasure. More than that, he made ...
— Two Boys in Wyoming - A Tale of Adventure (Northwest Series, No. 3) • Edward S. Ellis

... head. "I only wanted to come in and make a clean breast of it," he said, in a curious ...
— Odd Craft, Complete • W.W. Jacobs

... recognise signs which would have been obviously recognisable by the initiated. If Sir Nigel Anstruthers had been a nice young fellow who had loved her, and he had been honest enough to make a clean breast of his difficulties, she would have thrown herself into his arms and implored him effusively to make use of all her available funds, and if the supply had been insufficient, would have immediately written to her father ...
— The Shuttle • Frances Hodgson Burnett

... down my fork, and I put away “the island-girl”; I didn’t seem somehow to have any use for either, and I went and walked up and down in the house, and Uma followed me with her eyes, for she was troubled, and small wonder! But troubled was no word for it with me. I so wanted, and so feared, to make a clean breast of the ...
— Island Nights' Entertainments • Robert Louis Stevenson

... sudden gleam of sense darting across the blank bewilderment of my brain; "no, we must go to head-quarters at once, and make a clean breast of it. This ...
— Mugby Junction • Charles Dickens

... announcement of dinner. As there were more male guests than women, there was no need to give me a partner; so we all swept downstairs in a promiscuous flood, and soon were making the vital choice between bisque and consomme. Eating my dinner, I revolved my plans, and decided to make a clean breast of it. So, when we went up into the drawing-room, I made straight for my hostess. "I feel sure," I said, "that you and Mr. Goldmore did not expect me to-night." "Oh," was the gracious reply, "I hope there was nothing ...
— Fifteen Chapters of Autobiography • George William Erskine Russell

... dark past," she said in a teasing tone, smiling at him. "I suppose that as we're going to be married so soon I ought to make a clean breast of it, if you really ...
— The Loudwater Mystery • Edgar Jepson

... we must make a clean breast of it: in our hero there were two very distinct characters. Some Father of the Church has said: "I feel there are two men in me." He would have spoken truly in saying this about Tartarin, who carried in his ...
— Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 11 • Various

... master, and goes on his way to the shrine, carrying the two swords. Tarokaja draws a long breath of relief when he sees that his life is not forfeited; but what account is he to give of his master's sword which he has lost. There is no help for it, he must go back and make a clean breast of it. His master is very angry; and the two, after consulting together, await the stranger's return from the shrine. The latter makes his appearance and announces that he is going home. Tarokaja's master falls upon the stranger from behind, and pinions him, ordering Tarokaja to fetch a rope and bind ...
— Tales of Old Japan • Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

... at me queer and intent, and says, 'If you only knew how bad you are making your case you'd make a clean breast of it. Come now, let's get at ...
— Pardners • Rex Beach

... forester, going up to Michu and whispering in his ear: "What have you done with the senator? You had better make a clean breast of it, for if we are to believe these people it is a matter of life ...
— An Historical Mystery • Honore de Balzac

... the head and get safely away with the stuff. I am even accused of obstructing the police. An inspector has been round to see me this morning and he tells me there is practically no hope. He advises me, as between friends, to make a clean breast of it, return the boodle, betray my accomplices, plead mental deficiency and trust to the clemency of the Court. It's pretty rough, after making all arrangements for spending a cheerful Christmas in Algiers, to have it changed to cold porridge in Parkhurst or Princetown. Of the two ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 159, October 27, 1920 • Various

... indignantly. "If O'Connor could advise us I know the man well enough to believe that the first thing he would tell us to do would be to make a clean breast of everything. But I would hate to say what I should think of myself, or of you, if either of us did such a thing. Why man, you know as well as I do that it would set the Spaniards after him like a pack of hounds on ...
— A Voyage with Captain Dynamite • Charles Edward Rich

... he would tell Nell who he was, and—and—of his engagement to Luce. It would be an unpleasant, hateful story, but he would tell it. There had been too much concealment, too much deceit; he had been a fool to yield to the temptation to hide his identity; he would make a clean breast of it to-morrow. Once he stretched out his hand in the direction of hers, but Nell, though her eyes were not turned in his direction, saw the movement, and quickly removed her hand ...
— Nell, of Shorne Mills - or, One Heart's Burden • Charles Garvice

... sooner or later trouble and ruin will come upon you. Now I can promise you, in the name of the officer of the fort, a good English rifle for yerself and fifty guns for your braves and ten bales of blankets ef yer'll make a clean breast of it, and first tell us what deviltry Pontiac is up to and next jine us freely—or anyway hold aloof altogether from this conspiracy till yer ...
— True to the Old Flag - A Tale of the American War of Independence • G. A. Henty

... are determined, sir, I will make a clean breast of it," said the Signor, dashing several pieces of gold upon the floor,—"there, sir, is indeed the root of all evil! that gold was placed in my hands by a woman, who would make me a tool for the carrying out of designs, which I have ...
— Natalie - A Gem Among the Sea-Weeds • Ferna Vale

... any details or discussin' any ladies we know, my advice would be to make a clean breast of the whole thing," the little old man announced, avoiding Robert Morton's eyes and blowing a ring of smoke from his pipe impersonally toward the low ceiling. "Have it out with Zenas Henry an' set yourself right with the Belleport folks. You don't ...
— Flood Tide • Sara Ware Bassett

... accepted code I suppose I should make a clean breast of it, even to Dorothy, and go into retirement," she said at length. "I have thought of that, too; but I cannot feel it. I want to be active; to be able to use myself for betterment; make of myself an example of good and not of evil. What I ...
— Out of the Ashes • Ethel Watts Mumford

... wise counsels from their servants unless they confide in them and give them all the factors of the problem. If a client goes to a lawyer for advice the first thing the lawyer asks him to do is to make a clean breast of it. Before K. asks me to specify what I can do if he sends me these unknown and—in Great Britain—most variable quantities, Territorial or New Army Divisions, he ought to make a clean breast of it ...
— Gallipoli Diary, Volume I • Ian Hamilton

... forcible rather than polite. For now, in addition to all the money which he had lost, and the painful exposure to which he had been subjected, he was face to face with a new difficulty. Either he must make a clean breast of it to Ida about the mortgages being no longer in his hands or he must pretend that he still had them. In the first alternative, the consideration upon which she had agreed to marry him came to nothing. Moreover, Ida was thereby ...
— Colonel Quaritch, V.C. - A Tale of Country Life • H. Rider Haggard

... tour of four months. I presume it was too late by that time, for when I went home (I was bound to go home!) matters didn't seem to have mended. After a while we had it out—it was bound to come some time—and I told Stanor straight he'd either got to make a clean breast of things to you or never see me again. Up till then, I guess, we'd behaved as well as any two youngsters could have been expected to do under the circumstances, but after that things went to pieces. He wouldn't tell, and he couldn't keep away! I'm not defending Stanor. He's shown ...
— The Love Affairs of Pixie • Mrs George de Horne Vaizey

... know better," was Benjamin's frank confession, determined to make a clean breast of it. ...
— From Boyhood to Manhood • William M. Thayer

... gone out if you had not been delirious?" asked Razoumikhin, getting angry in his turn. "Why have gone out at all? What was the object of it? And, above all, to go in that secret manner? Come, now, make a clean breast of it—you know you were out of your mind, were you not? Now that danger is gone by, I tell you so ...
— The Continental Classics, Volume XVIII., Mystery Tales • Various

... me as I cautiously raise my head over the dunes, for often a band of plover is feeding at dawn out on the mud, close enough for a shot. Nothing in view save the gulls, those gossiping concierges of the bay, who rise like a squall of snow as I make a clean breast of my presence, and start across the soggy, slippery mud toward the marsh running out to the open sea. A curlew, motionless on his long legs, calls cheerfully from the point of sand: "Curli—Curli!" Strong, ...
— A Village of Vagabonds • F. Berkeley Smith

... and her pride cried out against it. No, she could never stand the disgrace. But what if the truth were to leak out through Mary—that would be infinitely worse. Her thoughts went around in a torturing circle and brought her to no decision. Should she make a clean breast of it now and have nothing more to fear, or should she take a chance on Jo's never ...
— The Campfire Girls at Camp Keewaydin • Hildegard G. Frey

... say something serious," replied old Mazey, with impenetrable solemnity. "It's been on my mind to come here and make a clean breast of it, for the last hour or more. Mark my words, young woman. ...
— No Name • Wilkie Collins



Words linked to "Make a clean breast of" :   fess up, concede, own up, confess, profess



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