I’ve always thought of secrets as hidden things that one seeks with excitement – tidbits of knowledge waiting to be uncovered, little treasures one keeps close until one finds somebody worthy to share in the delight. This passage from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eloquently captures the enchanting quality that secrets can possess – the magic, as it were, of keeping things locked away until they are ready to be shared. Unfortunately, however, secrets get a bad rap more often than not …
The above quote from Cassandra Clare likens secrets to lies; but they are, in fact, two different things. Merriam-Webster defines the word “secret” as follows:
‘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 :secluded
3 :revealed only to the initiated :esoteric
4 :designed to elude observation or detection a secret panel
5 :containing information whose unauthorized disclosure could endanger national security — compare confidential, top secret’
As you can see, secret doesn’t necessarily have a negative connotation. If a secret is kept with malice, then of course it is something different. Ironically, I could not find the definition of “lie” as a noun in the same dictionary (only as a verb, as in “to lie down”), so I looked up both “omission” (commonly used as a synonym for “lie” in these quotes) and “falsehood”:
‘1 a :something neglected or left undone There are a few omissions in the list.
b :apathy toward or neglect of duty The police officer was reprimanded for the omission of his duty to inform the suspect of his rights.
2 :the act of omitting :the state of being omitted Her omission from the team was surprising.’
‘1 :an untrue statement :lie
2 :absence of truth or accuracy
3 :the practice of lying :mendacity’
Funnily, the word “secret” does not appear in either definition. Yes, it might in another dictionary’s definition, but this is enough to illustrate my point. Secrets are not meant to be bad things. A secret is something hidden, concealed, disguised, or discrete. Any one of these adjectives could be paired with bad intentions, or used in reference to misbehaviour – thereby poisoning the more harmless notion of a secret – but they do not mean the same thing.
I look forward to sharing the magic of secrets with my son: treasure hunts, digging for “fossils”, hide and seek, surprises, and imaginary friends. Now, lies? That’s a different story.
Mini Mummi Blogger 🌺
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!
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