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best-kept secret

A certain aspect, fact, location, or activity, usually touristic or commercial in nature, that is or purports to be not well known to the public but deserving of praise or attention. The newspaper called the restaurant the city's best-kept secret. While everyone wants to visit the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula is really one of Ireland's best-kept secrets.
See also: secret

deep, dark secret

A piece of information that is extremely private and confidential, usually implied to be embarrassing, incriminating, or shameful. I've carried my fear of clowns as a deep, dark secret for many years now. Many saw her as a perfect candidate, but no one could have known she had a deep, dark secret from her past.
See also: dark, secret

carry a secret to (one's)/the grave

To keep (not reveal) a secret for the duration of one's life. I can't believe that Grandma carried such a huge family secret to her grave! If Uncle Joe hadn't blurted it out, we'd never have known about it! Oh, Emily is a loyal friend—she would definitely carry a secret to the grave.
See also: carry, grave, secret

Can you keep a secret?

A question asked before one discloses confidential information to confirm that the recipient will keep it confidential. A: "Can you keep a secret?" B: "Of course. What's going on?" A: "I'm getting the promotion!"
See also: can, keep

take a/the secret to (one's)/the grave

To not reveal a secret for the duration of one's life. I can't believe that grandma took such a huge family secret to her grave! If Uncle Joe hadn't blurted it out, we'd never have known about it! Oh, Emily is a loyal friend—she would definitely take the secret to the grave.
See also: grave, secret, take

top secret

Of the utmost secrecy; not to be revealed to anyone, under any circumstances. Hyphenated if used as before a noun. It should go without saying that this information is top secret—do not mention it to anyone, not even your loved ones. The top-secret memo has been at the center of an ongoing controversy within the party over the past few months.
See also: secret, top

trade secret

1. Literally, a particular way of making something that a company keeps secret from competitors. The recipe for our famous rib sauce has been a trade secret for decades.
2. By extension, any secret one keeps about the way one makes or does something. A: "How do you get the colors in your pictures to turn out so brilliantly?" B: "Sorry, trade secret."
See also: secret, trade

open secret

Something that is widely known, although it is not supposed to be. Oh please, everyone knew he was the real leader of the department—that was like an open secret.
See also: open, secret

in secret

Away from others; in private. We need to meet in secret so that the paparazzi don't see us together. You better speak to him in secret about that, instead of ambushing him in front of the whole staff.
See also: secret

make a secret of (something)

To try to hide something; to keep something secret. I've never made a secret of my plan to eventually sell the company. Don't make a secret of what you're working on—share it with the rest of us!
See also: make, of, secret

carry a secret to the grave

 and carry a secret to one's grave
Fig. to never reveal a secret, even to the day of one's death. John carried our secret to his grave. Trust me, I will carry your secret to the grave!
See also: carry, grave, secret

Could you keep a secret?

 and Can you keep a secret?
I am going to tell you something that I hope you will keep a secret. (Also used with can in place of could.) Tom: Could you keep a secret? Mary: Sure. Tom: Don't tell anybody, but I'm going to be a daddy. Sue: Can you keep a secret? Alice: Of course. Sue: We're moving to Atlanta.
See also: could, keep

in secret

secretly. They planned in secret to blow up the bridge. I will tell her in secret so no one else will hear.
See also: secret

keep a secret

to know a secret and not tell anyone. Please keep our little secret private. Do you know how to keep a secret?
See also: keep, secret

make a secret of something

to act as if something were a secret. I'm not making a secret of it. lam quitting this job. Mary made a secret of her intentions.
See also: make, of, secret

open secret

something that is supposed to be known only by a few people but is known in fact to a great many people. Their engagement is an open secret. Only their friends are supposed to know, but in fact, the whole town knows. It's an open secret that Max is looking for a new job.
See also: open, secret

trade secret

1. Lit. a secret way of making or selling a product; a business secret. The exact formula of the soft drink is a trade secret.
2. Fig. any secret method. (Jocular.) A: How do you manage to sell so many of these each month? B: It's a trade secret.
See also: secret, trade

Your secret is safe with me.

I will not tell your secret to anyone. Don't worry. I won't tell. Your secret's safe with me. Your secret is safe with me. I will carry it to my grave.
See also: safe, 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 also: secret

open secret

Something that is supposedly clandestine but is in fact widely known, as in It's an open secret that both their children are adopted. This expression originated as the title of a Spanish play by Calderón, El Secreto a Voces ("The Noisy Secret"), which was translated by Carlo Gozzi into Italian as Il pubblico secreto (1769). In English the term came into general use during the 1800s.
See also: open, secret

take the (or your etc.) secret to the grave

die without revealing a secret.
See also: grave, secret, take

an ˌopen ˈsecret

a fact that is supposed to be a secret but that everyone knows: It’s an open secret that they’re getting married.
See also: open, secret

ˌtop ˈsecret

used to describe very secret government information: These defence plans are top secret, known only to a very few people.The file was marked TOP SECRET.
See also: secret, top

a ˌtrade ˈsecret

1 a secret about a particular company’s method of production: The ingredients of Coca-Cola are a trade secret.
2 (humorous) a secret about how you make or do something: ‘Can I have a recipe for this cake?’ ‘No, you can’t. It’s a trade secret.’
See also: secret, trade

in secret

Without others knowing.
See also: secret

open secret, an

Something that is supposedly clandestine but is actually well known. This term was used as the Italian title of a play (Il pubblico secrete) translated by Carlo Gozzi in 1769 from a Spanish play by Calderón de la Barca, El secreto a voces (literally, “the noisy secret”). In English it came into general use in the nineteenth century for a secret in name only.
See also: open

secret weapon

A clandestine item or mode of attack unknown to the enemy. The term came into wide use during World War II, when it was rumored that Hitler was going to launch a powerful secret weapon against Great Britain. Subsequently the term was applied to pilotless planes, robot bombs, rockets, and nuclear bombs. Thereafter it entered the civilian vocabulary, where it is used in sports (“Bill’s second serve, stronger than the first, is his secret weapon”) and numerous other activities. Edith Simon had it in The Past Masters (1953): “See the candid camera at work, that misnamed secret weapon.”
See also: secret, weapon
References in classic literature ?
Was this the true secret of Clara Burnham's terror at the impending return of Richard Wardour?
To our disappointment the panel eluded our every effort to negotiate its secret lock.
So saying she swung the secret panel that separated us from the apartment in which I had found her, and we stepped through once more into the presence of the other prisoners.
His secret temples are hidden in the heart of every community.
To Laura's secret surprise and to my secret alarm, he called her by her Christian name, asked if she had heard lately from her uncle.
"Julia--Miss Warren--you tear my secret from me before its time--I love you, Julia, and would wish to make you my wife."
Anna, I have long thought that some important secret lay heavy at your heart.
Not alone was their work confined to unseen warfare with the secret agents of the Oligarchy.
First, the weeding out from our circles of the secret agents of the Oligarchy.
We mined the organization of the Iron Heel with our secret agents, and the Iron Heel countermined with its secret agents inside its own organization.
"I came from the end of the earth," he said, which rather seemed to confirm the Cape Town story, "bringing me Motherland the secret that would give her the empire of the world.
And then, springing from nowhere, sustained one knew not how, came a persistent, disturbing rumour that the problem had been solved, that the secret was known.
They try to keep it a secret. They got it right enough.
The pertinacity of the deceased, and all the circumstances united, induced him to set on foot some secret enquiries.
"Make this Mexican twenty, and I will sell you a secret."