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Secrecy (also called clandestinity or furtiveness) is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups, perhaps while sharing it with other individuals. That which is kept hidden is known as the secret. Secrecy is often controversial, depending on the content of the secret, the group or people keeping the secret, and the motivation for secrecy. Secrecy by government entities is often decried as excessive or in promotion of poor operation; excessive revelation of information on individuals can conflict with virtues of privacy and confidentiality.


  • Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
  • I request that they may be considered in confidence, until the members of Congress are fully possessed of their contents, and shall have had opportunity to deliberate on the consequences of their publication; after which time, I submit them to your wisdom.
    • John Adams, message to both houses of Congress transmitting dispatches from France (April 3, 1798); in Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams (1854), vol. 9, p. 158.
  • Est rosa flos Veneris cujus quo furta laterent.
    • As given in Burmann's Anthologia, Book V. 217. (1778). Sub rosa. Under the rose (i.e., secretly). The rose was emblematic of secrecy with the ancients. Cupid bribed Harpocrates, god of silence, with a rose, not to divulge the amours of Venus. Hence a host hung a rose over his tables that his guests might know that under it words spoken were to remain secret. Harpocrates is Horus, god of the rising sun. Found in Gregory Nazianzen Carmen (Ed. 1611), Volume II, p. 27.
  • A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets.
  • A secret remains a secret until you make someone promise never to reveal it.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 17.
  • I believe that the public temper is such that the voters of the land are prepared to support the party which gives the best promise of administering the government in the honest, simple, and plain manner which is consistent with its character and purposes. They have learned that mystery and concealment in the management of their affairs cover tricks and betrayal. The statesmanship they require consists in honesty and frugality, a prompt response to the needs of the people as they arise, and a vigilant protection of all their varied interests.
    • Grover Cleveland, letter accepting nomination as the Democratic candidate for president (August 8, 1884), The Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland (1892), p. 13.
  • Truly your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a Revealer of secrets, because you were able to reveal this secret.
  • As for you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.
  • Richter Belmont: Die monster! You don't belong in this world!
Dracula: It was not by my hand that I am once again given flesh. I was called here by humans who wish to pay me tribute.
Richter Belmont: Tribute!?! You steal men's souls and make them your slaves!
Dracula: Perhaps the same could be said of all religions...
Richter Belmont: Your words are as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!
Dracula: What is a man? (flings his wine glass aside) A miserable little pile of secrets! But enough talk... Have at you!
  • ...while there's no 'fair use' exception when it comes to trade secrets, anyone who discovers a trade secret without violating a confidentiality agreement can disseminate it freely. For example, if you board a commuter train in Atlanta and discover that a Coca-Cola employee has left the secret formula for the company's flagship product on one of the seats, you have no obligation not to reveal it to the world. More important, this means that newspapers often may legally publish material that may have been obtained illegally, as long as they did not induce the illegal taking or know about it beforehand and as long as no one was induced or solicited by the newspaper to steal the material in question.
    • Mike Godwin (2003). Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. p. 217. ISBN 0812928342.
  • Houseman: You two are an embarrassment from the 1970's. ...our country's dirty little secret. You can't be allowed to live. Well, the bombs will be dropping soon, and you two have a lot of catching up to do. Farewell.
  • As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape/disc will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Dan/Jim.
  • Goliath: Tell him the truth.
Elisa Maza: The truth! The whole truth? Including the part about gargoyles living in New York? That's not my secret to tell!
Broadway: You shouldn't have to. He should trust you.
Brooklyn: Trust doesn't mean much without honesty.
  • Secrecy is the first essential in affairs of state.
  • If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,
    Let it be tenable in your silence still.
    And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
    Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
  • But that I am forbid,
    To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
    I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul.
  • There are no secrets except the secrets that keep themselves.
    • George Bernard Shaw (Confucius, in Pt. III: The Thing Happens. - Back to Methuselah (1921)).
  • Edwards: Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.
Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb. Everything they've ever "known" has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, they knew it was flat. Fifteen minutes ago, you knew we humans were alone on it. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.
  • Kay: We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public.
Jay: Can we drop the cover-up bullshit?! There's an Alien Battle Cruiser that's gonna blow-up the world if we don't...
Kay: There's always an Alien Battle Cruiser...or a Korlian Death Ray, intergalactic plague about to wipe out life on this planet, and the only thing that lets people get on with their hopeful little lives is that they don't know about it.
  • Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.
  • Tacitum vivit sub pectore vulnus.
    • The secret wound still lives within the breast.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), IV. 67.
  • The secret is the secret.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 695-96.
  • For this thing was not done in a corner.
    • Acts, XXVI. 26.
  • A man can hide all things, excepting twain—
    That he is drunk, and that he is in love.
    • Antiphanes, Fragmenta. See Meineke's Fragmenta Comicorum Græcorum, Volume III, p. 3. Seq. Also in Didot's Poet. Com. Græ., p. 407.
  • When we desire to confine our words, we commonly say they are spoken under the rose.
  • A secret at home is like rocks under tide.
  • The secret things belong unto the Lord our God.
    • Deuteronomy, XXIX. 29.
  • As witnesses that the things were not done in a corner.
    • Gen. Thomas Harrison, defence at his trial, Account of the Trial of Twenty Regicides (1660), p. 39.
  • Arcanum neque tu scrutaveris ullius unquam, commissumve teges et vino tortus et ira.
    • Never inquire into another man's secret; but conceal that which is intrusted to you, though pressed both by wine and anger to reveal it.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 18. 37.
  • There is a skeleton on every house.
    • Saying from story in Italian Tales of Humour, Gallantry and Romance.
  • L'on confie son secret dans l'amitié, mais il échappe dans l'amour.
    • We trust our secrets to our friends, but they escape from us in love.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, IV.
  • Toute révélation d'un secret est la faute de celui qui l'a confié.
    • When a secret is revealed, it is the fault of the man who confided it.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, V.
  • Rien ne pèse tant qu'un secret:
    Le porter loin est difficile aux dames;
    Et je sais même sur ce fait
    Bon nombre d'hommes que sont femmes.
    • Nothing is so oppressive as a secret: women find it difficult to keep one long; and I know a goodly number of men who are women in this regard.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, VIII. 6.
  • Vitæ poscænia celant.
    • Men conceal the past scenes of their lives.
    • Lucretius, Re Rerum Natura, IV, 1,182.
  • Nothing is secret which shall not be made manifest.
    • Luke, VIII. 17.
  • I have play'd the fool, the gross fool, to believe
    The bosom of a friend will hold a secret
    Mine own could not contain.
  • Wer den kleinsten Theil eines Geheimnisses hingibt, hat den andern nicht mehr in der Gewalt.
    • He who gives up the smallest part of a secret has the rest no longer in his power.
    • Jean Paul Richter, Titon, Zykel 123.
  • Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon.
    • I Samuel. I. 20.
  • Alium silere quod voles, primus sile.
    • If you wish another to keep your secret, first keep it yourself.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, 876. Also St. Martin of Braga.
  • Latere semper patere, quod latuit diu.
  • Under the rose, since here are none but friends,
    (To own the truth) we have some private ends.
    • Jonathan Swift, Epilogue to a Benefit Play for the Distressed Weavers.
  • Miserum est tacere cogi, quod cupias loqui.
    • You are in a pitiable condition when you have to conceal what you wish to tell.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Let your left hand turn away what your right hand attracts.

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