Quotes About Keeping Secrets

Secrecy is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups who do not have the “need to know”, perhaps while sharing it with other individuals. That which is kept hidden is known as the secret.

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Guarding a secret is the same as guarding one’s chastity. Those who keep a secret, whether personal or a friend’s, keep themselves chaste. Conversely, those who spread secrets damage their honor and reputation by leaving them unguarded. – M. Fethullah Gulen

If you want to tell someone a secret, be sure that you could trust him or her with your honor. He or she must be as meticulous about keeping your secret as he or she would be about his or her own honor. An unreliable person, one who is ignorant of the value of chastity, should not be entrusted with keeping your secret. – M. Fethullah Gulen

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Keeping a secret and respecting the secrets of others, as opposed to prying into them, is a virtue related to self-discipline and sensitivity. Those who lack understanding cannot guard a secret, and those who do not care about the consequences of words and actions cannot be considered discreet. – M. Fethullah Gulen

It is usually wiser not to relate your private concerns to others, especially if they are unattractive, offensive, or lacking in merit. To do so can embarrass loved ones and delight enemies, and have other unpleasant consequences as well.

Hearts are created as safes for keeping secrets. Intelligence is their lock; will-power is their key. No one can break into the safe and steal its valuables if the lock or key are not faulty. – M. Fethullah Gulen

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Bear in mind that those who carry others’ secrets to you might bear yours to others. Do not give such tactless people any chance to learn even the smallest details of your private concerns. – M. Fethullah Gulen

If you entrust another secret to someone who previously disclosed one, your lack of perception and poor judgment in choosing a confidant is plain for all to see. One whose own heart is firm on this matter and who is vigilant cannot be deceived and seduced repeatedly in this way. – M. Fethullah Gulen

There are secrets related to the person, the family, and the nation. By disclosing a personal secret, you are interfering with a person’s honor; by disclosing a family secret, you are interfering with the family’s honor; and by disclosing a national secret, you are interfering with the nation’s honor. A secret is a power only as long as it stays with its owner, but is a weapon that may be used against its owner if it passes into the hands of others. This is the meaning of one of our traditional sayings: “The secret is your slave, but you become its slave if you disclose it.” – M. Fethullah Gulen

The details of many important affairs can be protected only if they are kept secret. Often enough, when the involved parties do not keep certain matters secret, no progress is achieved. In addition, serious risks might confront those who are involved, particularly if the matter concerns delicate issues of national life and its continuation. – M. Fethullah Gulen

If a state cannot protect its secrets from its enemies, it cannot develop. If an army reveals its strategy to its antagonists, it cannot attain victory. If key workers are won over by the competitors, their employers cannot succeed. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Explain what you must, but never give away all of your secrets. Those who freely publicize the secrets of their hearts drag themselves and their nation toward an inevitable downfall. – M. Fethullah Gulen

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  • Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
    • Attributed to John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • I request that they may be considered in confidence, until the members of Congress are fully possessed of their contents, and shall have had opportunity to deliberate on the consequences of their publication; after which time, I submit them to your wisdom.
    • John Adams, message to both houses of Congress transmitting dispatches from France (April 3, 1798); in Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams (1854), vol. 9, p. 158.
  • Est rosa flos Veneris cujus quo furta laterent.
    • As given in Burmann’s Anthologia, Book V. 217. (1778). Sub rosa. Under the rose (i.e., secretly). The rose was emblematic of secrecy with the ancients. Cupid bribed Harpocrates, god of silence, with a rose, not to divulge the amours of Venus. Hence a host hung a rose over his tables that his guests might know that under it words spoken were to remain secret. Harpocrates is Horus, god of the rising sun. Found in Gregory Nazianzen Carmen (Ed. 1611), Volume II, p. 27.
  • A secret remains a secret until you make someone promise never to reveal it.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 17.
  • I believe that the public temper is such that the voters of the land are prepared to support the party which gives the best promise of administering the government in the honest, simple, and plain manner which is consistent with its character and purposes. They have learned that mystery and concealment in the management of their affairs cover tricks and betrayal. The statesmanship they require consists in honesty and frugality, a prompt response to the needs of the people as they arise, and a vigilant protection of all their varied interests.
    • Grover Cleveland, letter accepting nomination as the Democratic candidate for president (August 8, 1884), The Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland (1892), p. 13.
  • Truly your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a Revealer of secrets, because you were able to reveal this secret.
    • Daniel 2:47 NWT
  • As for you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.
    • Daniel 12:4 NWT
  • Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.
    • Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack (1735).
  • If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.
    • Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack (1741).
  • While there’s no ‘fair use’ exception when it comes to trade secrets, anyone who discovers a trade secret without violating a confidentiality agreement can disseminate it freely. For example, if you board a commuter train in Atlanta and discover that a Coca-Cola employee has left the secret formula for the company’s flagship product on one of the seats, you have no obligation not to reveal it to the world. More important, this means that newspapers often may legally publish material that may have been obtained illegally, as long as they did not induce the illegal taking or know about it beforehand and as long as no one was induced or solicited by the newspaper to steal the material in question.
    • Mike Godwin (2003). Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. p. 217. ISBN 0812928342.
  • Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest.
    • Gospel of John 3:20-21 KJV.
  • Nothing circulates so rapidly as a secret.
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Romance and Reality (1841), Vol. 2, Chapter 4
  • Is a secret still a secret if everyone knows it?
    • George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings, Tyrion (IV)–Tyrion
  • Secrecy is the first essential in affairs of state.
    • Cardinal Richelieu “Maxims,” Testament Politique (1641).
  • If you have hitherto conceal’d this sight,
    Let it be tenable in your silence still.
    And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
    Give it an understanding, but no tongue.

    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act I, scene 2, line 249.
  • But that I am forbid,
    To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
    I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul.

    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act I, scene 5, line 13.
  • Two may keep counsel, putting one away.
    • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1597), Act II, scene 4, line 209.
  • Two may keep counsel when the third’s away.
    • William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (c. 1584-1590), Act IV, scene 2, line 144.
  • There are no secrets except the secrets that keep themselves.
    • George Bernard Shaw (Confucius, in Pt. III: The Thing Happens. – Back to Methuselah (1921)).
  • Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.
    • Sophocles, Hipponous, fragment 280.
  • Tacitum vivit sub pectore vulnus.
    • The secret wound still lives within the breast.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), IV. 67.
  • The secret is the secret.
    • David Woodard, Breed the Unmentioned.
  • I think of secrets of lies.
    • Amy Hempel, “Cloudland”
  • Before a stranger do nothing that should be kept secret, for you do not know what it will produce later on.
    • Sirach 8:18
  • For this thing was not done in a corner.
    • Acts, XXVI. 26.
  • A man can hide all things, excepting twain—
    That he is drunk, and that he is in love.

    • Antiphanes, Fragmenta. See Meineke’s Fragmenta Comicorum Græcorum, Volume III, p. 3. Seq. Also in Didot’s Poet. Com. Græ., p. 407.
  • When we desire to confine our words, we commonly say they are spoken under the rose.
    • Sir Thomas Browne, Vulgar ErrorsOf Speaking Under the Rose. Pseudodoxia, 5, 23.
  • For thre may kepe a counsel, if twain be awaie.
    • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Ten Commandments of Love, 41. George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651). John Heywood, Proverbs, Part II, Chapter V.
  • A secret at home is like rocks under tide.
    • Dinah Craik, Magnus and Morna, scene 2.
  • The secret things belong unto the Lord our God.
    • Deuteronomy, XXIX. 29.
  • As witnesses that the things were not done in a corner.
    • Gen. Thomas Harrison, defence at his trial, Account of the Trial of Twenty Regicides (1660), p. 39.
  • Arcanum neque tu scrutaveris ullius unquam, commissumve teges et vino tortus et ira.
    • Never inquire into another man’s secret; but conceal that which is intrusted to you, though pressed both by wine and anger to reveal it.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 18. 37.
  • There is a skeleton on every house.
    • Saying from story in Italian Tales of Humour, Gallantry and Romance.
  • L’on confie son secret dans l’amitié, mais il échappe dans l’amour.
    • We trust our secrets to our friends, but they escape from us in love.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, IV.
  • Toute révélation d’un secret est la faute de celui qui l’a confié.
    • When a secret is revealed, it is the fault of the man who confided it.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, V.
  • Rien ne pèse tant qu’un secret:
    Le porter loin est difficile aux dames;
    Et je sais même sur ce fait
    Bon nombre d’hommes que sont femmes.

    • Nothing is so oppressive as a secret: women find it difficult to keep one long; and I know a goodly number of men who are women in this regard.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, VIII. 6.
  • How can we expect another to keep our secret if we cannot keep it ourselves.
    • François de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims. No. 90.
  • Vitæ poscænia celant.
    • Men conceal the past scenes of their lives.
    • Lucretius, Re Rerum Natura, IV, 1,182.
  • Nothing is secret which shall not be made manifest.
    • Luke, VIII. 17.
  • I have play’d the fool, the gross fool, to believe
    The bosom of a friend will hold a secret
    Mine own could not contain.

    • Philip Massinger, Unnatural Combat, Act V, scene 2.
  • Wer den kleinsten Theil eines Geheimnisses hingibt, hat den andern nicht mehr in der Gewalt.
    • He who gives up the smallest part of a secret has the rest no longer in his power.
    • Jean Paul Richter, Titon, Zykel 123.
  • Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon.
    • I Samuel. I. 20.
  • Alium silere quod voles, primus sile.
    • If you wish another to keep your secret, first keep it yourself.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, 876. Also St. Martin of Braga.
  • Latere semper patere, quod latuit diu.
    • Leave in concealment what has long been concealed.
    • Seneca the Younger, Œdipus, 826.
  • Under the rose, since here are none but friends,
    (To own the truth) we have some private ends.

    • Jonathan Swift, Epilogue to a Benefit Play for the Distressed Weavers.
  • Miserum est tacere cogi, quod cupias loqui.
    • You are in a pitiable condition when you have to conceal what you wish to tell.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Let your left hand turn away what your right hand attracts.
    • TalmudSota, 47.

Confidentiality is an ethical principle associated with several professions (e.g., medicine, law, religion) in which professionals do not share the secrets entrusted to them by clients, patients or parishioners.

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  • CONFIDANT, CONFIDANTE, n. One entrusted by A with the secrets of B, confided by him to C.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic’s Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil’s Dictionary (1911).
  • Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
    • Hippocratic Oath.
  • Let those who are friendly to you be many,
    but one in a thousand your confidant.

    • Sirach 6:6, (New American Bible Revised Edition).

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