Idiom “Washing dirty laundry”

Nowadays, we associate the phrase “washing dirty laundry” with gossip, or with talking about someone behind their back. But why do we even say someone is washing dirty laundry? The phrase comes from the Middle Ages. At that time the women of the village met to wash their clothes together at the village spring or at the river.

They would gossip about each other’s misdeeds and missteps. Thus, it became a custom to pass the time while washing clothes with stories about the other villagers. Consequently, the proverbial washing of dirty laundry was equated with the gossiping of the washerwomen.

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