Definition of closet in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈklɑzət/


1chiefly North American A cupboard or wardrobe, especially one tall enough to walk into.
Example sentences
  • Spare bedrooms or large closets make good drying rooms, but hot attics and damp cellars generally do not.
  • Houses that don't have catch-all closets or rooms in which the inhabitants can dump outdoor stuff always seem sinister to me.
  • Close doors to rooms that don't need to be heated, like closets, storage rooms, etc.
1.1A small room, especially one used for storing things or for private study.
Example sentences
  • Another described the huts of hermits on remote islands off the coast of Ireland and asked if I was constructing a prayer closet.
  • And since last night, the bearded mentor had sequestered himself in his prayer closet, taking only water as he fasted.
  • She placed the belongings in an empty cubbyhole in the private closet with a label indicating the pile's owners.
1.2 dated short for water closet
Example sentences
  • the stench from the overcrowding or from closets is almost unbearable
  • some persons will use the closet twice daily
2 (the closet) Used 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
More example sentences
  • It's time for lesbian breakups to come out of the closet.
  • 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.
  • An obvious, but often overlooked, fact about assimilation is that it can only occur once gay people have actually come out of the closet.


Secret; covert: a closet alcoholic
More example sentences
  • There may be closet homosexuals but they are not to be relied upon.
  • The church has been ordaining closet homosexuals for 2000 years, but it seems to have problems ordaining honest ones.
  • He's obviously terrible in bed, and there's one scene that suggests he's a closet homosexual - so what's to admire?

verb (closets, closeting, closeted)

[with object]
Shut (someone) away, especially in private conference or study: he was closeted with the king he returned home and closeted himself in his room
More example sentences
  • 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.’
  • He responded by closeting himself in the former ladies' cabin of the steamer Magnolia while he poured over maps pondering the situation.
  • 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.


late Middle English (denoting a private or small room): from Old French, diminutive of clos 'closed' (see close1).

  • [LME]

    Although closet is now the usual word in American English for a cupboard or wardrobe, it originally referred to a small private room, such as one for study or prayer. This idea of privacy led to the sense of hiding a fact or keeping something secret, which goes right back to the beginning of the 17th century. A person who is hiding the fact that they are gay has been described as in the closet, or as a closet homosexual, since the late 1960s. To out someone, meaning to reveal that they are gay, is a shortened way of saying ‘to force them out of the closet’. Closet comes from close[ME], which both in the sense ‘near’ and ‘shut’ go back to Latin claudere ‘to shut’, also the source of recluse[ME], someone who shuts themselves away.

Words that rhyme with closet


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: clos·et

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