Thursday, 16 April 2015

Divulge - A Common Mistake

Photo by C.E.B Imagery


Verb. Late Middle English.
[Latin divulgare, formed from di- 'widely' + vulgare 'publish' (from vulgus 'common people').] 

1(a) obsolete. verb trans. Make publicly known; publish (a statement, book, etc.). LME-L18

1(b) obsolete. verb trans. Make a public pronouncement about (a person). L16-L17

2 verb trans. Declare or tell openly (something private of secret); disclose, reveal. E17

3 verb intrans. Become publicly known. rare. E17

4 obsolete. Make common, impart generally. rare (Milton). Only in M17

To divulge a secret, my mother used to say, is awfully vulgar. And she was right, of course - both socially and etymologically - for divulge has its roots in the Latin vulgus, meaning 'common people' (and from which we get the word vulgar, and from which the Latin Vulgate takes its name). It's not that the etymology suggests the divulging of secrets is peculiar to commoners; rather, to divulge is to publish widely [to the common man]. And, to be truthful, when I told you about the embarrassing incident with that pretty young lady and the pot of marmalade, I really did expect a little more discretion on your part.

Do please widely publish your most vulgar comments in the box below. 


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