January 18, 2013
confidential (adjective)
\kahn-fuh-DEN-shul\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : secret, private2 : indicating or suggesting closeness : intimate3 : trusted with secret matters
How do you use it?
The mysterious envelope was addressed to me and stamped "CONFIDENTIAL: For Your Eyes Only."
Are you a word wiz?

"Confidential" ultimately comes from two Latin words: the prefix "con-" and the verb "fidere." When taken together, what do these words mean?

If you chose B, you're right! "Confidential" is related to a family of words that come from the Latin prefix "con-" and the verb "fidere," meaning "to trust." The earliest of these lexical cousins to arrive in English was "confidence," meaning originally "trust, belief." Following immediately on the heels of "confidence" was "confide," taken from the verb "confidere," and meaning the same as the Latin verb: "to trust, to place faith in." "Confidential" didn't show up in English print until the 1700s, when it was used to refer to something that was said or done secretly, or, as you might say, "in confidence."
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