Definition of closet in English:



  • 1North American A cupboard or wardrobe, especially one tall enough to walk into.

    • ‘He got up, and went away into the closet adjoining her room, in which a bed had been spread on the floor.’
    • ‘In my search I found a bathroom, two closets, the laundry room, and the basement.’
    • ‘Houses that don't have catch-all closets or rooms in which the inhabitants can dump outdoor stuff always seem sinister to me.’
    • ‘Suddenly they pulled him into a room that looked more like a janitor's closet then anything else.’
    • ‘The hall, closets, laundry room, bathroom, and den all had their own muted colored doors.’
    • ‘I sat in my room, in my closet to be exact, and stared at the wall with my journal lying on my lap, waiting for me to fill its pages with tonight's occurrences.’
    • ‘Close doors to rooms that don't need to be heated, like closets, storage rooms, etc.’
    • ‘Spare bedrooms or large closets make good drying rooms, but hot attics and damp cellars generally do not.’
    • ‘Is there an area of your house that has a musty smell to it (basements, laundry rooms, and closets are all prime spots)?’
    • ‘He, along with the others, was waiting for me by the second floor janitorial closet, a secluded and unused room just under the side stairwell.’
    • ‘Some people will also use this kind of pantry closet to store occasional-use items, such as large platters and coffee urns.’
    • ‘We'd hit the big time, changing in a real dressing room, not some backstage janitor's closet.’
    • ‘Her mother, a petite sort of woman and covered in flour, walked out from the store closet.’
    • ‘This section mainly held small maintenance closets, party rooms, storage areas, and a single inn.’
    • ‘The Interrogation Chamber was scarcely more than a small closet of a room.’
    cupboard, wardrobe, cabinet, locker
    storage room, cubicle
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    1. 1.1A small room, especially one used for storing things or for private study.
      • ‘She placed the belongings in an empty cubbyhole in the private closet with a label indicating the pile's owners.’
      • ‘And since last night, the bearded mentor had sequestered himself in his prayer closet, taking only water as he fasted.’
      • ‘Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks, but in the prayer closet.’
      • ‘I can just go in my prayer closet and confess to God and I don't need to talk about my sins with a man.’
      • ‘Another described the huts of hermits on remote islands off the coast of Ireland and asked if I was constructing a prayer closet.’
    2. 1.2dated
      short for water closet
      • ‘the stench from the overcrowding or from closets is almost unbearable’
      • ‘some persons will use the closet twice daily’
      lavatory, wc, water closet, facilities, urinal, privy, latrine, outhouse, earth closet, jakes
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  • 2Used to refer to a state of secrecy or concealment, especially about one's homosexuality.

    ‘his brother's decision to come out of the closet’
    ‘she tries to have a relationship with another woman while remaining in the closet’
    • ‘That's changing as more of us come out of the closet - hence the improving statistics on gay-marriage support.’
    • ‘One of my other friends seems to think that this girl has a huge crush on me and is just afraid to ‘come out of the closet.’’
    • ‘I am proud that I was able to come out of the closet with dignity and on my own terms.’
    • ‘Stories of athletes who've dared to come out of the closet will also be featured.’
    • ‘It must have taken courage to come out of the closet, even on that limited scale; congratulations.’
    • ‘It is a symbol of the strength it takes for gay Americans to come out of the closet, and the strength of all who support them.’
    • ‘At last, those of us who are pernickety about our food can come out of the closet.’
    • ‘An obvious, but often overlooked, fact about assimilation is that it can only occur once gay people have actually come out of the closet.’
    • ‘But now, their storm-trooper tactics have come out of the closet, for all the world to see.’
    • ‘What's the best way for a gay or lesbian to come out of the closet?’
    • ‘Well the blond bombshell is one celebrity who's come out of the closet about her illness.’
    • ‘My wife is leaving it up to me to come out of the closet and tell everyone, and she is very supportive.’
    • ‘You could come out of the closet to someone you've just met, for example, even if you haven't come out to family and friends.’
    • ‘It's time for lesbian breakups to come out of the closet.’
    • ‘One of the biggest deterrents to coming out of the closet for gay and lesbian youth has to be the paucity of out role models.’
    • ‘The Left needs to come out of the closet about its spiritual dimensions.’
    • ‘Straight talk about sex in the media, which was taboo during his repressive regime, has come out of the closet.’
    • ‘The main reason for this public calm is that gays have come out of the closet in huge numbers over the last three decades.’


  • [attributive] Secret; covert.

    ‘a closet alcoholic’
    • ‘As it turned out he wasn't a closet Bolshevik at all, rather a secret Tory with a clever eye for career advancement.’
    • ‘It's hard to find an environmentalist who is not a closet socialist - with a nice condo in the suburbs and two cars in the garage.’
    • ‘I'm not talking about closet communists, hippies or little old ladies.’
    • ‘Of course, there's always the possibility that she's got her own kind of closet issues.’
    • ‘The church has been ordaining closet homosexuals for 2000 years, but it seems to have problems ordaining honest ones.’
    • ‘There may be closet homosexuals but they are not to be relied upon.’
    • ‘Dublin is harbouring a posse of disenfranchised closet cowboys, hollering for a dedicated country music radio service.’
    • ‘Today it is a heritage centre where closet cowboys don fancy dress and fire blanks from six-shooters in the name of tourism and charity.’
    • ‘Does this mean that journalists are closet Stalinists, covering for their comrades in furtherance of the Revolution?’
    • ‘You half-expected the same spokesman to try to convince us all that bookies are really closet philanthropists.’
    • ‘I've discovered a whole drove of closet romance fans.’
    • ‘Things of a sexual nature such as prostitution, even though they were going on, were pretty much closet activities.’
    • ‘I just hoped he wasn't some kind of closet kleptomaniac.’
    • ‘He is a closet homosexual, quite clearly, and I'd advise him to act on his feelings.’
    • ‘Perhaps we workers in Antarctica are regarded as closet revolutionaries?’
    • ‘Women are often closet gamblers and their husbands and families are the last to know about the addiction.’
    • ‘He's obviously terrible in bed, and there's one scene that suggests he's a closet homosexual - so what's to admire?’
    secret, covert, unrevealed, undisclosed, private, hidden, concealed, surreptitious, clandestine, underground, furtive
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  • Shut (someone) away, especially in private conference or study.

    ‘he was closeted with the king’
    ‘he returned home and closeted himself in his room’
    • ‘He would prefer to walk up the stairs than get closeted in a lift.’
    • ‘The former senator closeted himself yesterday at his New Jersey, home to consult supporters.’
    • ‘Being a housewife, closeted within the four walls of the kitchen amid pots, pans and ladles, dishing out culinary delicacies for family, friends and relatives need not always be drudgery.’
    • ‘And so, closeted in our jury room, sandwiches ordered, mobile phones removed and under strict instructions to speak to no-one, we sat down to make our decision.’
    • ‘The Daily Mail, which was due to run extracts in January, leapt at the chance to go early, and so I closeted myself away and bashed out an extra chapter bringing the book up to date.’
    • ‘She added: ‘We have all been so affected by the tragedy that we risk closeting our kids and raising a generation of very nervous young adults.’’
    • ‘Before going for official-level talks, the Defence Secretary was closeted with his counterpart for about an hour.’
    • ‘From the Ministry of Defence, where he closeted himself for much of the time, there issued a steady flow of handouts extolling his sagacity and leadership.’
    • ‘The secret to his stage routine is out: he sings as though he's in the shower and dances as though he's safely closeted in his bedroom.’
    • ‘Immediately after the assassination he raced from Montreal to New York, where he was closeted in a five-hour locked-door meeting.’
    • ‘He responded by closeting himself in the former ladies' cabin of the steamer Magnolia while he poured over maps pondering the situation.’
    • ‘You know, he closeted himself off from the rest of the world, in that sense.’
    • ‘Alex told me that although his family knows that he is gay, he closets himself more than I would have expected - particularly at his school.’
    • ‘It became impossible to closet millions of people behind a physical wall that was so easily penetrated by informatics.’
    • ‘Brendan closeted himself in his office for the rest of the day and wallowed in his misery.’
    • ‘It requires instead that women must closet themselves in order to protect themselves from sexual assault.’
    • ‘I'm the loser here, closeted in my room, thinking that study is an adequate substitute for life, or even, for vanity is something I've never quite outgrown, superior to it.’
    • ‘Amanda closeted herself in her room for two days trying to sleep away her headache and the heartache that was its companion.’
    • ‘Constantly closeted with management, they come to see negotiation, compromise, as the very stuff of trade unionism.’
    • ‘Then he closeted himself in the bathroom, intent on a shower.’
    • ‘I guess it was time for me to sulk about the house of the rest of the evening, closeting myself away in my room listening to music.’
    shut away, sequester, seclude, cloister, insulate, confine, isolate
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Late Middle English (denoting a private or small room): from Old French, diminutive of clos closed (see close).