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  1. done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others: secret negotiations.
  2. kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged: a secret password.
  3. faithful or cautious in keeping confidential matters confidential; close-mouthed; reticent.
  4. designed or working to escape notice, knowledge, or observation: a secret drawer; the secret police.
  5. secluded, sheltered, or withdrawn: a secret hiding place.
  6. beyond ordinary human understanding; esoteric.
  7. (of information, a document, etc.)
    1. bearing the classification secret.
    2. limited to persons authorized to use information documents, etc., so classified.
  1. something that is or is kept secret, hidden, or concealed.
  2. a mystery: the secrets of nature.
  3. a reason or explanation not immediately or generally apparent.
  4. a method, formula, plan, etc., known only to the initiated or the few: the secret of happiness; a trade secret.
  5. a classification assigned to information, a document, etc., considered less vital to security than top-secret but more vital than confidential, and limiting its use to persons who have been cleared, as by various government agencies, as trustworthy to handle such material.Compare classification(def 5).
  6. (initial capital letter) Liturgy. a variable prayer in the Roman and other Latin liturgies, said inaudibly by the celebrant after the offertory and immediately before the preface.
  1. in secret, unknown to others; in private; secretly: A resistance movement was already being organized in secret.

Origin of secret

1350–1400; Middle English secrette < Old French secret < Latin sēcrētus hidden, orig. past participle of sēcernere to secern
Related formsse·cret·ly, adverbse·cret·ness, nounnon·se·cret, adjective, nounnon·se·cret·ly, adverbqua·si-se·cret, adjectivequa·si-se·cret·ly, adverbsem·i·se·cret, adjectivesem·i·se·cret·ly, adverbsu·per·se·cret, nounul·tra·se·cret, adjectiveul·tra·se·cret·ly, adverbun·se·cret·ly, adverb

Synonyms for secret

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Antonyms for secret Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for in secret


  1. kept hidden or separate from the knowledge of othersRelated adjective: cryptic
  2. known only to initiatesa secret password
  3. hidden from general view or usea secret garden
  4. able or tending to keep things private or to oneself
  5. operating without the knowledge of outsidersa secret society
  6. outside the normal range of knowledge
  1. something kept or to be kept hidden
  2. something unrevealed; mystery
  3. an underlying explanation, reason, etc, that is not apparentthe secret of success
  4. a method, plan, etc, known only to initiates
  5. liturgy a variable prayer, part of the Mass, said by the celebrant after the offertory and before the preface
  6. in the secret among the people who know a secret
Derived Formssecretly, adverb

Word Origin for secret

C14: via Old French from Latin sēcrētus concealed, from sēcernere to sift; see secern
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for in secret



late 14c., from Latin secretus "set apart, withdrawn; hidden, concealed, private," past participle of secernere "to set apart, part, divide; exclude," from se- "without, apart," properly "on one's own" (see se-) + cernere "separate" (see crisis).

As an adjective from late 14c., from French secret, adjective use of noun. Open secret is from 1828. Secret agent first recorded 1715; secret service is from 1737; secret weapon is from 1936.



"to keep secret" (described in OED as "obsolete"), 1590s, from secret (n.). Related: Secreted; secreting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with in secret

in secret

Unknown to others, privately. For example, They met in secret, or, as Shakespeare put it in Love's Labour's Lost (5:2): “One word in secret.” [Second half of 1400s]


see in secret; open secret.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.