functioning in private; secret; closet.

Origin of closeted

First recorded in 1675–85; closet + -ed2
Related formsun·clos·et·ed, adjective




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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for closeted

Contemporary Examples of closeted

Historical Examples of closeted

  • He and Lady Coryston were closeted together for nearly an hour.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • General Lebrun was said to be there, closeted with the mayor.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • Meantime he went out and was closeted again with Moltke and His Majesty.

    Blood and Iron

    John Hubert Greusel

  • Willy Ray was there, and had been for hours closeted with the sheriff's assistant.

  • For already her ladyship was closeted with Rotherby in her boudoir.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for closeted



a small cupboard or recess
a small private room
short for water closet
(modifier) private or secret
(modifier) suited or appropriate for use in privatecloset meditations
(modifier) US and Canadian based on or devoted to theory; speculativea closet strategist

verb -ets, -eting or -eted

(tr) to shut up or confine in a small private room, esp for conference or meditation

Word Origin for closet

C14: from Old French, from clos enclosure; see close 1
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

Word Origin and History for closeted



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

Idioms and Phrases with closeted


see come out of the closet; skeleton in the closet.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.