Sweep something under the rug and sweep something under the carpet are idioms. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, on the ball, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idioms sweep something under the rug and sweep something under the carpet, from where these expressions are derived, and some examples of their use in sentences.
To sweep something under the rug or to sweep something under the carpet means to hide something, to ignore something, or to conceal something. One may choose to sweep something under the rug or sweep something under the carpet because it is embarrassing, unpleasant to deal with, or harmful. The terms sweep something under the rug and sweep something under the carpet came into use in the early 1900s and are based on the idea of a lazy maid or homemaker sweeping dirt under a rug or carpet, rather than going to the trouble of getting a dust pan and dealing with the dirt to remove it from the home. The idiom sweep something under the rug is seen more often than the idiom sweep something under the carpet. Related phrases are sweeps under the rug, swept under the rug, sweeping under the rug, sweeps under the carpet, swept under the carpet, sweeping under the carpet.
“Sweep everything under the rug for long enough, and you have to move right out of the house.” (The Boston Globe)
A former food service contract employee had tweeted about the incident in January, claiming it was “swept under the rug,” a statement which Superintendent Sandra Lemmon disagreed with in a letter sent to the district community. (The York Dispatch)
Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members in the disaster, said: “It seems like the council wants to forget about it or sweep it under the carpet.” (The Evening Standard)
“Basically, what’s happened here is the government is looking to sweep this under the carpet,” the Meath West TD told The Irish Catholic, adding that a letter the family sent to Health Minister Simon Harris three weeks ago has been ignored. (The Irish Catholic)