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From Latin confidentia +‎ -al.


  • IPA(key): /ˌkɑːnfɪˈdɛnʃl/
  • (file)


confidential (comparative more confidential, superlative most confidential)

  1. Kept, or meant to be kept, secret within a certain circle of persons; not intended to be known publicly
    Synonyms: private, classified, off the record, privileged, secret, dern (obsolete)
    Antonyms: public, on the record
    The newspaper claims a leaked confidential report by the government admits to problems with corrupt MPs.
    • 1872, George Eliot, Middlemarch, Edinburgh: William Blackwood, Book 6, Chapter 61, p. 355,[1]
      [] I have a communication of a very private—indeed, I will say, of a sacredly confidential nature, which I desire to make to you.
    • 1960, Muriel Spark, The Bachelors, Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1961, Chapter 10, p. 163,[2]
      It would tell against your reputation, losing a confidential document, wouldn’t it? Why didn’t you keep it confidential if it was confidential?
  2. (dated) Inclined to share confidences; (of things) making people inclined to share confidences; involving the sharing of confidences.
    Sitting in front of the fire, they became quite confidential, and began to gossip.
    • 1814 July, [Jane Austen], chapter 16, in Mansfield Park: [], volume (please specify |volume=I, II or III), London: [] T[homas] Egerton, [], OCLC 39810224, [https:// page 310]:
      Long, long would it be ere Miss Crawford’s name passed his lips again, or she could hope for a renewal of such confidential intercourse as had been.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 11, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 60:
      I was only alive to the condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing a pipe and a blanket with a real friend.
    • 1905, Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, New York: Scribner, Book 2, Chapter 2, p. 329,[3]
      She and Bertha had never been on confidential terms, but at such a crisis the barriers of reserve must surely fall:
    • 1923, Arnold Bennett, Riceyman Steps, London: Cassell, Part 5, Chapter 2, p. 241,[4]
      Miss Raste was encouraged to be entirely confidential, to withhold nothing even about herself, by the confidence-inspiring and kindly aspect of Elsie’s face.
  3. (dated) Having someone's confidence or trust; having a position requiring trust; worthy of being trusted with confidences.
    a confidential agent; a confidential servant; a confidential whisper

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