Whispering into one’s ear, quickly passing a note that has been folded into a square the size of your thumb, a spot where you meet friends back in the woods, and pinky-swearing. All of these experiences and things relate to the word “secret.”
“Secret,” both an adjective and a noun, can be dated back to the 14th century.
1 a: kept from knowledge or view : hidden b: marked by the habit of discretion : closemouthed c: working with hidden aims or methods : undercover <a secret agent> d: not acknowledged : unavowed <a secret bride>e: conducted in secret <a secret trial>2: remote from human frequentation or notice : secluded3: revealed only to the initiated : esoteric4: designed to elude observation or detection <a secret panel>5: containing information whose unauthorized disclosure could endanger national security — compare confidential, top secret
“Secret” is in fact a major component in several other words, such as “open secret,” “secret ballot,” “secret partner,” “secret police,” “secret service,” “secret society,” “top secret,” “trade secret.” I’m not sure what that says about society, but we seem to be well versed in being secretive.
My memories of this word are those spoken in hushed voices. It evokes images of shadows, hidden passages and locked drawers.
What are your favorite secrets? Well, I guess you might not tell.
image courtesy of A Touch of Glass