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Secrets (painting by Karl Witkowski)

A secret is a (mostly "sensitive") piece of information (about facts or supposed facts that someone wants to keep to themselves) that is only assigned to one or a few owners.

It should not become known to another person or group of people. Such information is often deliberately kept in a small circle of initiates. It can also be completely lost due to external circumstances.

In the political arena, the foreign word clandestin (originally from Latin clandestinus , “secretly”, “secret”) is also used for the term . Opposite terms are public , transparency and freedom of information .

In the context of a mystery , “secret” refers to an event that does not seem to be rationally explainable, or a process, the background of which is expected by the ordinary viewer due to the action of certain “initiated” groups of people (e.g. priests , shamans , magicians, legendary figures) intentionally remain unclear.

In Germany, the violation of private secrets is listed in the penal code: "Anyone who discloses an unauthorized third-party secret, namely a secret belonging to the personal sphere of life or a business or trade secret, that has been entrusted to him [...] or has otherwise become known, will [...] punished. "(StGB, § 203).


  • The official secret is a secret to a specific, verifiable persons of public officials and employees of an authority limited. The members of this group are subject to confidentiality.
  • The doctor's confidentiality , the doctor 's duty of confidentiality during the examination, the treatment of his patients
  • The banking secrecy referred to confidentiality and right of refusal to supply information by banks to third parties about the financial circumstances of their customers.
  • As a seal of confession is called the dutiful discretion of the clergy with regard to everything to him in the confession is entrusted.
  • A trade secret is a former in specific occupations kept working methods or production processes, which for reasons of economy (limiting the number of professional practitioner) and plagiarism pass non-professional foreign persons should be made available. Professional secrets were, however, often broken in exchange for appropriate payment ( magicians ). Today it is understood as the employee's duty to remain silent about things that he has learned while doing his job.
  • The secrecy of letters is a fundamental right guaranteed in the constitution of democratic states, which guarantees the inviolability of mail.
  • The data secrecy protects personal data against abuse, it is by the Privacy guaranteed.
  • The secrecy of telecommunications is a ban on the unauthorized interception, suppressing, valorization or maiming of telecommunication (telex, telephone, radio and telegraph) messages. The secrecy of telecommunications is constitutionally protected in many countries and is supplemented by the secrecy of letters and postal secrecy .
  • The secret of faith is a term from the tradition of Christian theology; Martin Luther translated the biblical word mysterion with "secret".
  • The military secret is a secret in the military field.
  • An open secret or public secret is information that should have been kept secret by interested parties, but has nevertheless become known.
  • The personal secret is known only to a person. Some secrets are 'taken to the grave'.
  • The editorial secrecy is the mitgeschützte with the fundamental right of press freedom confidentiality of the work of newspaper editors and magazine editors.
  • The social secret is a special official secrecy in the field of social law .
  • State secrets arefacts that are relevantto the security of a state and, if they were to become public, could seriously damage the political and economic interests of the state.
  • The statistical secret is an official secret in the area of ​​the statistical offices about the origin of the data collected by them.
  • The tax secrecy prevents the tax authorities from passing on the knowledge they gain during tax collection to third parties.
  • A secrecy also have relatives attending healing professions, such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychological psychotherapists, child and adolescent psychotherapists or nationals of any other health profession that requires a government-regulated training - eg. B. Nurses and paramedics and their helpers (e.g. paramedics and paramedics). This list is exhaustive and includes e.g. B. no alternative practitioners . Similarly, lawyers and their employees sworn to secrecy. Information to authorities is subject to a special regulation.
  • The protection of the confidentiality of the word protects the non-publicly spoken word in particular from secret records.
    The same applies to registration secrecy ( Section 7 BMG ).
  • Pilots were seafarers with special nautical skills. For a long time, the Portuguese Crown pursued a strict policy of confidentiality (Política de Sigilo nas Navegações): It forbade its pilots to offer their services outside of Portugal and threatened prosecution if they did so. The pilots committed themselves to this secrecy before starting their training.

Secrets in literature

Secrets and their exploration are a frequent topic in the literature, for example in the horror novel (regularly e.g. in E. Marlitt ).

See also


  • Hans-Jürgen Breith: Patents and utility models for state secrets. Peter Lang Verlag, Munich / Frankfurt 2002, ISBN 978-3-631-39848-7 .
  • Oliver Hochadel: Science is a secret. In: Der Standard , Research Special - Journal for Science, Technology and Development, Vienna, H. 24, December 2008, p. 13 ( ( Memento of March 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive )).
  • Thomas Marxhausen: Mystery , in: Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism , Vol. 5, Argument-Verlag, Hamburg, 2001, Sp. 48–53.
  • Albert Spitznagel: Secret and Secrecy. Appearances, functions, consequences. Hogrefe, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-8017-0990-6 .
  • Alfred W. Kumm: Protection of state secrets and patent protection of secret inventions. Review, critical situation and outlook. Bock and Herchen, Bad Honnef 1980, ISBN 3-88347-047-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Secret  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: klandestin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Secrecy  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Secret  - Quotes


  1. Cf. also Christian Morgenstern : "There is no secret in itself, there are only uninitiated people of all degrees."