Definition of secret in English:



  • 1Not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others.

    ‘how did you guess I'd got a secret plan?’
    ‘the resupply effort was probably kept secret from Congress’
    • ‘The US is planning to introduce secret military tribunals which can impose the death penalty.’
    • ‘I first want to take you on on this idea that they're publishing secret war plans.’
    • ‘His secret plans for a new and unconventional way of life have only just emerged from the letters he wrote to friends.’
    • ‘Katelyn passed him and he turned around, smiling at Jude as they did their little secret handshake.’
    • ‘But she does seem to enjoy keeping things so secret that nobody knows what the hell is going on.’
    • ‘A few years ago, Michael Jackson planned a secret trip, making arrangements for as much privacy as possible.’
    • ‘The Council shall vote by secret ballot in order to fill the vacancy expeditiously.’
    • ‘Have the glitzy pair really called it quits, or are they planning a secret wedding?’
    • ‘A BBC programme claimed to have conclusive evidence of plans for a secret motorway linking the M65, A65 and A1.’
    • ‘This was a secret visit planned with military precision.’
    • ‘Keeping things secret is a phenomenal marketing tool.’
    • ‘Even after the secret escape plan was revealed and all hell broke loose, the company held fast to its priorities.’
    • ‘Recruiters say that anonymity - the ability to keep clients' identities secret - is another valuable asset.’
    • ‘A secret organization were supposedly planning an act of terrorism.’
    • ‘Some conspiracy theorists believe the Priory of Sion to be one of the oldest and most powerful secret societies.’
    • ‘Keeping some detail more secret than another is certainly not uncommon in traditional Aboriginal religious affairs.’
    • ‘Could this be NASA's secret asteroid-destruction plan?’
    • ‘They probably have secret meetings and plan world wars or something.’
    • ‘I made it myself with the finest beans and a little secret ingredient of my own.’
    • ‘The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are sealed into the Sistine Chapel for a very secret ballot.’
    confidential, strictly confidential, top secret, classified, restricted, unrevealed, undisclosed, unpublished, untold, unknown, uncommunicated, behind someone's back, under wraps, unofficial, off the record, not for circulation, not for publication, not to be made public, not to be disclosed
    hidden, concealed
    clandestine, covert, undercover, underground, hidden, shrouded, conspiratorial, surreptitious, stealthy, cloak-and-dagger, hole-and-corner, closet
    cryptic, encoded, coded, enciphered, hidden, mysterious, abstruse, recondite, arcane, esoteric, cabbalistic
    secluded, private, concealed, hidden, sheltered, undisturbed, unfrequented, solitary, lonely, sequestered, out of the way, remote, isolated, off the beaten track, tucked away, cut-off
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    1. 1.1attributive Not meant to be known as such by others.
      ‘a secret drinker’
      • ‘We are the secret heroes of the world, the unknown saviors standing between all we know and love and the outer dark.’
      • ‘I'm a secret real ale drinker from time to time - could I be an English Democrat?’
      • ‘Or maybe it was just some sardonic concoction made by my real secret admirer!’
      • ‘"Really, so I was a super secret weapon, a super soldier.’
      • ‘Mr Hague reveals his history as a secret drinker in an interview published today in a glossy men's magazine.’
      • ‘Angel has been getting emails from an unknown guy who claims is her secret admirer.’
      • ‘And once you start talking, they will repeat what you say, and soon you will have a reputation of a secret drinker.’
      clandestine, covert, undercover, underground, hidden, shrouded, conspiratorial, surreptitious, stealthy, cloak-and-dagger, hole-and-corner, closet
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    2. 1.2 Fond of or good at keeping things about oneself unknown.
      ‘he can be the most secret man’
      uncommunicative, secretive, unforthcoming, reticent, private, media-shy, taciturn, silent, non-communicative, quiet, tight-lipped, close-mouthed, close, playing one's cards close to one's chest, clamlike, reserved, introvert, introverted, self-contained, discreet
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  • 1Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.

    ‘a state secret’
    ‘at first I tried to keep it a secret from my wife’
    • ‘When the girls discover his dirty little secret, they give him a taste of his own medicine.’
    • ‘In truth, how she died was unknown, a secret that remained with her family.’
    • ‘Nerve gas was one of Hitler's darkest, best-kept secrets.’
    • ‘As confrontations ensue, a shameful family secret is revealed that will change their lives for ever.’
    • ‘And Jim liked to think he still had a few secrets up his sleeve.’
    • ‘It also relates to hidden and unknown matters, secrets and private enemies.’
    • ‘He would do everything in his power to make sure the family secret was not discovered.’
    • ‘Though a woman full grown, she still needed a reminder on the evils of keeping secrets from her parents.’
    • ‘He had succeeded in the balancing act of keeping secrets and informing the public.’
    • ‘You had to keep your dirty little secret.’
    • ‘The Soviets kept this fact a secret for many years after the flight.’
    • ‘But they're going to have to keep it a secret from everybody else…’
    • ‘Hackers can leak trade secrets stolen from unprotected networks.’
    • ‘Her true identity is a secret from her new friends and workmates.’
    • ‘They've been trying to keep that a secret from the public.’
    • ‘She tried to pretend she was revealing a dearly kept secret.’
    • ‘In England the home secretary is insisting that much government information will remain a state secret for 30 years.’
    • ‘Los Alamos National Laboratory is where the nation's nuclear secrets are kept and now, it appears, lost.’
    • ‘Our families knew about it in advance and somehow managed to keep it a secret from me.’
    • ‘One by one, Khmer Rouge leaders are taking their secrets to their graves.’
    confidential matter, confidence, private affair, skeleton in the cupboard
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    1. 1.1 Something that is not properly understood; a mystery.
      ‘I'm not trying to explain the secrets of the universe in this book’
      • ‘Scientists are working to unlock the secrets hidden in our genome.’
      • ‘In him, we find the secret of our own mysterious origins and the path of return to the Father's house.’
      • ‘To explore how you create some of your troubles would bring you uncomfortably close to your unknown inner secrets.’
      • ‘This house is history personified with all its grandeur, mysteries and unravelled secrets.’
      • ‘It brings to mind starry-eyed visions of Julius Cohen, paleontologist, plumbing the secrets of the unknown.’
      • ‘What's the secret behind these mysterious collapsing atoms?’
      • ‘So I now appeal to know, to unlock the secret of this mystery delicacy.’
      • ‘There are no mysteries and secrets that cannot be learned by persons of average intelligence.’
      • ‘Despite its utopian ideals, this specter hides a deep dark secret.’
      • ‘Their goal is to discover the secrets behind the mysterious tower that Union has built on the northern island of Hokkaido.’
      • ‘I can't explore the country's culture properly and learn its secrets.’
      • ‘Like JFK and the O.J. Simpson case, the world needs its share of secrets and mysteries.’
      • ‘Join the team for a gardening adventure and discover different mysteries and secrets about all things botanical.’
      • ‘Tour the grounds and uncover the mysteries and secrets of its plant life.’
      • ‘So the secret of the mysterious phone calls is solved… a little.’
      • ‘The secrets of The Mysterious Bog People are unravelled in a new exhibition.’
      • ‘In Asia today these drums are often associated with Indus Valley script, its secrets remaining a mystery.’
      • ‘What drives the attention of an audience is the unforeseeable, and the secrets and the mystery of a performance.’
      • ‘Blavatksy may have understood the secret of the divine essence, but I don't think she understood the nature of hypnosis or mesmerism.’
      • ‘In that discipline he thought he had found the key to the secrets of the universe.’
      mystery, enigma, problem, paradox, puzzle, conundrum, poser, riddle, question, question mark
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    2. 1.2 A valid but not commonly known or recognized method of achieving or maintaining something.
      ‘the secret of a happy marriage is compromise’
      • ‘The secret to Field's method is that his demos are very small, requiring small amounts of material, energy, or money.’
      • ‘The secret to achieving and maintaining healthy, young looking skin is balance in your life and skin care routine.’
      • ‘The secret is in recognizing that major change is inevitable.’
      • ‘The secret is understanding the key issues and making decisions about how to act on them.’
      • ‘The secret to understanding Davies - one of the greatest female golfers to grace the game - is to understand this statement.’
      • ‘The secret, La Collins maintains, to her youthful flush is nothing other than petroleum jelly and water.’
      • ‘What would you tell a baby band these days is the secret to longevity?’
      • ‘Kit believes the secret to longevity is a healthy lifestyle.’
      • ‘A star student revealed to me the secret to doing this properly.’
      • ‘The secret to achieving your goals is mapping out a realistic plan to attainment, with measured success.’
      • ‘The secret to his success seemed to be less raw talent than hard work.’
      • ‘She maintains the secret of her long life is that she's never drank or smoked.’
      • ‘The secret to achieving excellence is taking advantage of opportunities.’
      • ‘Maybe this strange talisman contained his secret to the mysteries of life.’
      • ‘So what is the secret to achieving a truly green envelope?’
      • ‘The secret to maintaining this balance over the long haul is to avoid letting moderation turn into monotony.’
      • ‘You'll hear how these top companies built their business and learn the insider secrets to their success.’
      • ‘Their secret is the Taguchi Method, which is a technique for designing experiments that converge on an ideal product solution.’
      • ‘The secret to achieving your dreams is to do something every day that moves you closer to those dreams.’
      • ‘Daily exercise and a strict diet are the common secrets of staying young.’
      recipe, formula, blueprint, magic formula, key, answer, solution
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    3. 1.3 A prayer said by the priest in a low voice after the offertory in a Roman Catholic Mass.


  • be in (on) the secret

    • Be among the small number of people who know something.

      ‘only Linda was let in on the secret’
      • ‘I love knowing how it all works, being in on the secret.’
      • ‘I've also talked to a whole lot of people who one way or another were in on the secret.’
      • ‘It follows further that Alexander is in on the secret.’
      • ‘The gig had been arranged in total secrecy and only her husband was in on the secret.’
      • ‘Ben must have been in on the secret too, because he refused to take off his clothes.’
      • ‘‘This idea of 420 being a ‘secret code’ is kind of funny, when you think that a third of the population is in on the secret.’
      • ‘Then he smiles showing that he, too, is in on the secret.’
      • ‘His wife, Lynne, and children Craig and Rachel were in on the secret and helped to plan and organise the tribute.’
      • ‘And the light and curtain crews both appeared to be in on the secret.’
      • ‘How could one be in the secret and not take part (take a determinant part), in its structure?’
  • in secret

    • Without others knowing.

      • ‘There is nothing in the order that requires that these proceedings occur in secret.’
      • ‘Old forms of government have every reason to operate in secret, while denying just that privilege to subjects.’
      • ‘In typically British style, the deliberations were conducted in secret.’
      • ‘But the one was kept away from key witnesses, the other meets in secret and reports only to the prime minister.’
      • ‘But the most interesting evidence of the day may have been held in secret.’
      • ‘The man presumed to be Richard was buried in secret at a monastery in Hertfordshire and his remains moved to Westminster.’
      • ‘This deal was done entirely in secret, allegedly to prevent skyrocketing of land prices in the area.’
      • ‘There's also a guest appearance by the heartthrob singer whom she married in secret last June.’
      • ‘Is it acceptable that MPs should have the privilege of voting in secret?’
      • ‘He took them quickly and in secret, hiding the camera under a long, shabby overcoat.’
      secretly, without anyone knowing, in private, privately, in confidence, confidentially, behind closed doors, behind the scenes, behind someone's back, under cover, under the counter, discreetly, unobserved, quietly, furtively, stealthily, on the sly, on the quiet, privily, conspiratorially, covertly, clandestinely, on the side
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  • make no secret of something

    • Make something perfectly clear.

      ‘they made no secret of their hatred for him’
      • ‘He's quite proud of that stance and makes no secret of it.’
      • ‘They come at the question with an agenda and make no secret of it.’
      • ‘It strikes me that if I'm looking to make a fortune overnight - and I make no secret of it, I am - then poker may be the answer.’
      • ‘In the case that's true, then you've got to remember that he despises the Bush administration and made no secret of it.’
      • ‘But the important thing is that it was disclosed in the media in August of 1998 and he made no secret of it.’
      • ‘Woodhill makes no secret of his desire to bring in new leadership to build a larger, more influential organization.’
      • ‘The odd thing is that the administration, while making no secret of its disapproval, has launched no specific crackdown against strip clubs’
      • ‘The left makes no secret of its intentions where the Constitution is concerned.’
      • ‘The president has been making no secret of his profound concern over the regional situation.’
      • ‘Lloyds has made no secret of the fact that it wishes to steer clear of the volatile returns of investment banking.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin secretus (adjective) ‘separate, set apart’, from the verb secernere, from se- ‘apart’ + cernere ‘sift’.