• Secrete

    Pronunciation

    • RP enPR: sĭkrētʹ, IPA: /sɪˈkɹiːt/
    • Rhymes: -iːt

    Origin 1

    First attested in 1678: from the Latin participle sēcrētus ("been separated").

    Full definition of secrete

    Adjective

    secrete

    1. (obsolete, rare) separated
      • 1678: Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, book 1, chapter 4, pages 307 and 582:... they ſuppoſing Two other Divine Hypoſtaſes Superiour thereunto, which were perfectly Secrete from Matter....This ſo containeth all things, as not being yet ſecrete and diſtinct; whereas in the Second they are diſcerned and diſtinguiſhed by Reaſon; that is, they are Actually diſtinguiſhed in their Ideas; whereas the Firſt is the Simple and Fecund Power of all things.

    Origin 2

    First directly attested in 1728; attested as the past-participial adjective secreted in 1707: from Latin sēcrēt-, perfect passive participial stem of sēcernō ("I separate"); reinforced by back-formation from secretion; compare secern; cognate with the French sécréter and the Spanish secretar.

    Verb

    1. (physiology, transitive, of organs, glands, etc.) To extract a substance from blood, sap, or similar to produce and emit waste for excretion or for the fulfilling of a physiological function.
      • CarpenterWhy one set of cells should secrete bile, another urea, and so on, we do not know.
      • 2008, Stephen J. McPhee, Maxine A. Papadakis, et al., Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, McGraw-Hill Medical, page 1202:Many tumors secrete two or more different hormones.
    2. figurative uses
      • 1863: Charles Kingsley (author), Frances Elizabeth Kingsley (editor), Charles Kingsley, his Letters and Memories of his Life (first published posthumously in 1877), page 156 (8th edition: 1880)If you won’t believe my great new doctrine (which, by the bye, is as old as the Greeks), that souls secrete their bodies, as snails do shells, you will remain in outer darkness.
      • 1887: James Russell Lowell, Democracy and Other Addresses, page 15 (1892 reprint)Let me not be misunderstood. I see as clearly as any man possibly can, and rate as highly, the value of wealth, and of hereditary wealth, as the security of refinement, the feeder of all those arts that ennoble and beautify life, and as making a country worth living in. Many an ancestral hall here in England has been a nursery of that culture which has been of example and benefit to all. Old gold has a civilizing virtue which new gold must grow old to be capable of secreting.

    Origin 3

    Alteration of verb sense of secret

    Verb

    1. (transitive) To conceal.
      • 1914: The Pacific Reporter, volume 142, page 450 (West Publishing Company)Plaintiffs filed an affidavit for an attachment, alleging that defendant was about to assign, secrete, and dispose of his property with intent to delay and defraud his creditors, and was about to convert his property into money to place it beyond the reach of his creditors.
      • 1997: Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault, page 43 (Totem Books, Icon Books; ISBN 1840460865)Whereas the Renaissance had allowed madness into the light, the classical age saw it as scandal or shame. Families secreted mad uncles and strange cousins in asylums.
    2. (transitive) With away, to steal.The royal jewels were secreted away in the middle of the night, sub rosa.

    Usage notes

    The present participle and past forms secreting and secreted are heteronymous with the corresponding forms of the similar verb secret, and this can create ambiguity when the word is encountered in print.

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