Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(775 words)

The German noun Geheimnis (secret, mystery) first appears in the 16th century. Its only MHG precursors were the adjectival form geheim (secret) and the noun Heimlichkeit (secrecy). The term Geheimnis owes its popularity to the Bible translation of Martin Luther, who was looking for a noun equivalent to Greek mystḗrion and Latin secretum. From this original religious context, the word spread quickly to the political sphere, but soon (as its use in many compounds illustrates) pervaded other areas of social life (e.g. family secrets, se…

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Gestrich, Andreas, “Secrecy”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 25 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_019699>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210601

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