Word of the Day : February 16, 2016

sub rosa

adverb sub-ROH-zuh


: in confidence : secretly

Did You Know?

Sub rosa literally means "under the rose" in New Latin. Since ancient times, the rose has often been associated with secrecy. In ancient mythology, Cupid gave a rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to keep him from telling about the indiscretions of Venus. Ceilings of dining rooms have been decorated with carvings of roses, reportedly to remind guests that what was said at the table should be kept confidential. Roses have also been placed over confessionals as a symbol of the confidentiality of confession. Sub rosa entered the English language in the 17th century, and even before then, people were using the English version, "under the rose." Earlier still, unter der Rose was apparently used in Germany, where the phrase is thought to have originated.


"For 30 years he kept notes, almost sub rosa, finally publishing his work with his own funds just before his death." — Jeannette Ferrary, The New York Times Book Review, 31 May 1987

"Now, when you say you think they will test it, do you think they will test it openly, essentially, or that they will try to do something sub rosa and wait to be caught?" — Margaret Warner, on PBS.org, 9 Sept. 2015

Word Family Quiz

What adjective related to Latin rosa can mean "resembling a rose" or "overly optimistic"?



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