English Usage

"Agreatdealofcloak and also daggerstuffgoesoninpolitics.""Alotofcloak and also daggeractivitywasinvolvedinthe appointmentofthe CEO.""What is up through all this cloak and dagger talk? Is over there something walking on i don"t understand about?"



You are watching: Cloak-and-dagger idiom

Whenpeoplebehaveinaverysecretive way,oftenwhenitisnotreallynecessary.

Concerned with, or properties of espionage or intrigue, particularly in the paper definition of drama.


So literally, a cloakisatypeoflong,loosecoatandadaggerisasmallsharpknifeusedasaweapon. But figuratively,"cloak and dagger" has the same feel together the expression "smoke and mirrors" in the they both conjure up photos of espionage, secrecy, and deceit. There room a pair different theories regarding how this expression came to be.

Part the the phrase"s origin originates from cloak-and-dagger theatre i beg your pardon was famous in France and Spain in the 18th century. It contained main personalities who generally wore cloaks and also carried daggers called "de cape et d"épée" (French), and also "de capa y espada" (Spanish). Both interpreted literally method "of cloak and sword". The cloak to be wrapped around one arm as a type of shield orworn come hide one"s identity.The dagger, or sword, to be aconcealable and also silent weaponused for fighting.The imagery the these two items became associated with the usual spy or assassin.

Historically, in europe martial arts, the function of the coat was: come hide the existence or activity of the dagger, to carry out minor security from slashes, to restrict the movement of the opponent"s weapon, and to carry out a distraction. Usage of the cloak and also dagger was considered a "dishonest" method of combat because of that is deceptive tactics. Giacomo di Grassi,in "His True Arte of Defence" (1570, English 1594),included a section dubbed "The Rapier and also Cloake" that demonstrates how the cloak is used in combat.

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But if anyone can claim to have carried the expression "cloak and dagger" come the English language, it to be Charles Dickens. InBarnaby Rudge, 1841, the made a sarcastic reference to the type of melodramas the employed the cloak and also dagger as stage props:

"...his servant brought in a very small scrap that dirty paper, strict sealed in two places, ~ above the inside whereof to be inscribed in pretty large text this words: "A friend. Desiring of a conference. Immediate. Private. Burn it when you"ve check out it.""Where in the surname of the shooting powder Plot did you pick up this?" stated his master.It was provided him by a person then waiting at the door, the man replied."With a cloak and dagger?" claimed Mr Chester."

Has everyone heard of any type of other beginnings of this phrase? call me some other means you prefer to usage this expression in the comments below.