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(one's) secret weapon
Some person, thing, or element at one's disposal that provides one with a distinct advantage, especially because it is not known or discussed widely (or at all). The new Flapple and Spikerosoft computers are largely equal in most areas hardware-wise, but the latter's incredibly intuitive operating system could end up being its secret weapon. Our support among younger voters is going to be our secret weapon this election. The team's incredible new quarterback is going to be their secret weapon going into this season.
(someone's) secret is safe with (one)
One will not divulge the secret that someone else has shared with one. A: "Please don't share that information with anyone else!" B: "Don't worry—your secret is safe with me!" The legal consultant assured me that our secrets are safe with him.
a magician never reveals his secrets
Said by someone who does not wish to divulge or explain something (not necessarily an actual magician). A: "What did you put in this sauce? It tastes even better than usual!" B: "Ah, a magician never reveals his secrets." Mommy, I tried to ask the magician how he did that trick, and all he would say is, "A magician never reveals his secrets."
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
keep a secret
To not divulge confidential information to anyone else. A: "Hey, can you keep a secret?" B: "Of course. What's going on?" A: "I'm moving to Florida in two months!" Oh, no, don't tell Mary—everyone knows that she can't keep secrets!
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!
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.
A clandestine location used as a refuge by the select few who know about it. I bet the thieves have holed up in some secret hideout so that the police don't find them. When I was a kid, my friends and I had a secret hideout down by the creek.
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.
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.
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."
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
carry a secret to the graveand 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!
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.
secretly. They planned in secret to blow up the bridge. I will tell her in secret so no one else will hear.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
take the (or your etc.) secret to the gravedie without revealing a secret.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
an ˌopen ˈsecreta fact that is supposed to be a secret but that everyone knows: It’s an open secret that they’re getting married.
ˌtop ˈsecretused 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.
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.’
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
Without others knowing.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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
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.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer