What’s the meaning of “Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian idiom Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio along with its pronunciation. If you have any embarrassing secrets, this proverb is for you!

Let’s start! Iniziamo!


Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio

Meaning of the proverb

Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio can literally be translated as “to have skeletons in the closet”. Its meaning, of course, is the same as the common English idiom to have skeletons in your closet, so it’s used to describe someone who has some compromising secrets that must be kept hidden to protect their reputation.

Linguistically speaking, this idiom can be broken down into…

  • avere (to have)
  • degli (one of the Italian partitive articles)
  • scheletri (skeletons, from scheletro, skeleton)
  • nell’ (in the)
  • armadio (closet, wardrobe)

Secret is translated as segreto in Italian.

man destroying a compromising paper

For example, you could say…

Tutti hanno degli scheletri nell’armadio.
Everyone has skeletons in their closet.

Non te lo posso dire: è un segreto!
I can’t tell you: it’s a secret!


Pronunciation of Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio in Italian

Now let’s hear how this idiom is pronounced.

Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio.
To have skeletons in the closet.

If you need help with Italian pronunciation, check out the lesson on the Italian alphabet and pronunciation.


Where does Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio come from?

This idiom did not originate in Italy. Instead, it’s thought to be a direct borrowing from English, which is why it can be translated literally into this language!

But where do skeletons come from? Why skeletons? Prior to 1832, anatomy studies in England could only be performed on the corpses of criminals who had been executed. This led to a shortage of corpses to study, so anatomy teachers had to make do and find illegal ways of obtaining corpses for students to examine. Because of this, skeletons had to be kept secret.

Anatomy is translated into Italian as anatomia. Yet another easy word to remember! 😉

drawing of the internal organs of a human being

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian idiom Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio!


What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Avere degli scheletri nell’armadio is in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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