secret of Polichinelle

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From French secret de Polichinelle, from a play by Pierre Wolff.

Noun[edit]

secret of Polichinelle (plural secrets of Polichinelle)

  1. A supposed secret known to everyone.
    • 1915, Frederick Scott Oliver, Ordeal by Battle:
      In October and November 1910 there was a great secret of Polichinelle. Conceivably we may learn from some future historian even more about it than we knew at the time.
    • 1926, W. J. Thorold, Arthur Hornblow, Perriton Maxwell, Stewart Beach (editors), Theatre magazine, vols 43-44:
      It is said that Polst fell because he revealed in an unlucky interview the Secret of Polichinelle, the secret which all the world knew, the secret that there was a claque at the Metropolitan Opera House.
    • 1992, Hyman Gross and Ross Harrison, Jurisprudence: Cambridge Essays:
      British public life specializes in an elegant variation of the secret of Polichinelle. After a secret is disclosed it may still be treated as if it were a secret.

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