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cloak and dagger

involving mystery and secrecy


cloak and dagger = mysteriös, geheim cloak and dagger operation = eine Nacht und Nebel Aktion --- GOOGLE INDEX cloak and dagger: approximately 450,000 Google hits



Soon he was arranging CLOAK AND DAGGER meetings with the young reporters in darkened parking garages across the Potomac River.

(The London Independent)

Analysts say that Yukos' legal attempts to block the auction by filing for bankruptcy protection in the US are probably what caused this week's CLOAK AND DAGGER dealings.

(BBC News)

Did you

cloak and dagger
adjective phrase

- marked by melodramatic intrigue and often by espionage

(American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


The phrase cloak and dagger has two possible origins. One dates from the early 19th century and is a translation from the French de cape et d'épée and Spanish comedia de capa y espada (literally "of cloak and sword"). These phrases referred to a genre of drama in which the characters actually wore cloaks and carried swords.

In 1840, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "In the afternoon I read La Dama Duende of Calderón - a very good comedy of cloak and sword." Charles Dickens subsequently used the phrase "cloak and dagger" a year later.

In historical European martial arts, the term can be taken literally, and refers to wielding a dagger in one hand and a cloak in the other. The purpose of the cloak was to obscure the presence or movement of the dagger, to provide minor protection from slashes, to restrict the movement of the opponent's weapon, and to provide a distraction. Use of the cloak and dagger was considered a "dishonest" method of combat because of its deceptive tactics.

(adapted from Wikipedia)


mysterious, covert, secretive, hidden, enigmatic, cryptic, intriguing


"Cloak and dagger dealings make Western business people very uneasy."

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