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Language tip of the week: secret

ILearn English with Macmillan Dictionaryn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of  language tips we look at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s tip looks at metaphors used to talk about keeping and revealing secrets:

To keep something secret is like covering it, or putting it in a container, so that other people cannot see it.



She accused him of covering up the truth.
They hid/concealed the truth as best they could.
He tried to mask/disguise/camouflage his true feelings.
She wanted to bury the memory of that day.
The operation was cloaked/shrouded/veiled in secrecy.
We will draw a veil over what happened next.
You’re just trying to paper over the problem.
The project is still under wraps.
They’re keeping us completely in the dark.
There has been a complete news blackout.
This report is nothing but a whitewash: what really went on?

To tell a secret is like removing a cover from something, or like opening a container and letting something get out.

He uncovered/revealed/exposed a terrible secret.
After a few minutes, she began to open up and talk about her family.
You have always been very open about your feelings.
Someone leaked the information to the press.
The news had already got out.
My father let the cat out of the bag and spoiled the surprise.
Do you know who spilled the beans?
He spilled his guts to the police.

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Liz Potter

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