Meaning of the emperor's new clothes in English:

the emperor's new clothes


(also the emperor has no clothes)
  • Used in reference to a situation in which people believe or pretend to believe in the worth or importance of something that is worthless, or fear to point out an obvious truth that is counter to prevailing opinion.

    ‘is his white canvas a case of the emperor's new clothes or is it something beautiful, even moving?’
    • ‘this is the first time that anyone has stripped his work of its rhetoric and shown that this particular emperor has no clothes’
    • ‘It is doubtful that anyone will tell the senator that the emperor has no clothes.’
    • ‘Since everyone buys into the sham, there's no one around with the guts to notice the emperor's new clothes.’
    • ‘Then suddenly the emperor's new clothes slipped away and the lack of inventive creativity became obvious.’
    • ‘Like the mythical emperor's new clothes, the obscurity of highbrow discourse was merely a mystique that charlatans used to confound the gullible.’
    • ‘He basically wrote that he thought the film was a fraud: "the emperor has no clothes".’
    • ‘I tend to think that if the emperor has no clothes, it doesn't matter how smart one claims to be or how deep one's point may be.’
    • ‘But virtually everyone is declaring the emperor has no clothes.’
    • ‘Unfortunately it is a case of the emperor's new clothes: the critics and media say the actors are wonderful - hence the punters pay stupid money to see them!’
    • ‘His so-called 'art' was terrible - thank goodness people are realizing the emperor has no clothes.’
    • ‘Most of what we viewed fell into the "emperor's new clothes" category.’


    After the title of the story Kejserens nye klæder (1837) by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (first translated into English as The Emperor's New Clothes in 1846), in which an emperor is tricked into thinking he is wearing beautiful new clothes, which all his courtiers pretend to admire, until a boy points out that he is in fact naked.