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[kloz-it] /ˈklɒz ɪt/
a small room, enclosed recess, or cabinet for storing clothing, food, utensils, etc.
a small private room, especially one used for prayer, meditation, etc.
a state or condition of secrecy or carefully guarded privacy:
Some conservatives remain in the closet except on election day. Gay liberation has encouraged many gay people to come out of the closet.
private; secluded.
suited for use or enjoyment in privacy:
closet reflections; closet prayer.
engaged in private study or speculation; speculative; unpractical:
a closet thinker with no practical experience.
being or functioning as such in private; secret:
a closet anarchist.
verb (used with object)
to shut up in a private room for a conference, interview, etc. (usually used in the passive voice):
The secretary of state was closeted with the senator for three hours in a tense session.
Origin of closet
1300-50; Middle English < Anglo-French, Middle French, equivalent to clos close (noun) + -et -et Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for closet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “He is within, sire,” Tavannes answered, indicating the closet.

    Count Hannibal Stanley J. Weyman
  • What have you done with the money you took from the drawer in the closet?

    Hope and Have Oliver Optic
  • The Guardian unlocked a closet and took from it a white194 robe, which the soldier threw over Ojo.

    The Patchwork Girl of Oz L. Frank Baum
  • And he brought from a closet the red hood, which he spread out on the table.

    Samuel Brohl & Company Victor Cherbuliez
  • It was now eleven, and Sir Thomas knew very well that Stemm would be in his closet.

    Ralph the Heir Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for closet


a small cupboard or recess
a small private room
short for water closet
(modifier) private or secret
(modifier) suited or appropriate for use in private: closet meditations
(modifier) (US & Canadian) based on or devoted to theory; speculative: a closet strategist
verb -ets, -eting, -eted
(transitive) to shut up or confine in a small private room, esp for conference or meditation
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from clos enclosure; see close1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for closet

late 14c., from Old French closet "small enclosure, private room," diminutive of clos "enclosure," from Latin clausum "closed space, enclosure, confinement," from neuter past participle of claudere "to shut" (see close (v.)). In Matt. vi:6 it renders Latin cubiculum "bedchamber, bedroom," Greek tamieion "chamber, inner chamber, secret room;" thus originally in English "a private room for study or prayer." Modern sense of "small side-room for storage" is first recorded 1610s.

The adjective is from 1680s, "private, secluded;" meaning "secret, unknown" recorded from 1952, first of alcoholism, but by 1970s used principally of homosexuality; the phrase come out of the closet "admit something openly" first recorded 1963, and lent new meanings to the word out.


"shut up as in a closet" (originally usually for purposes of concealment or private consultation), 1680s, from closet (v.). Related: Closeted; closeting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for closet



Secret; unsuspected •Although this sense is much earlier, it has recently been revived by the homosexual use: Puddin' calls me his closet red-neck/ fellow who was known around the White House as a ''closet liberal'' (1600s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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closet in the Bible

as used in the New Testament, signifies properly a storehouse (Luke 12: 24), and hence a place of privacy and retirement (Matt. 6:6; Luke 12:3).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with closet
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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