In this audio file, at 0:55, what does deadly mean?

  1. Causing or likely to cause death
  2. Complete

The textbook says 1, but I think 2 is correct.

Source: The ILI English Series, Intermediate 1, Student's book, Page 101

3 Answers 3


The word deadly in the phrase deadly secrets is often used figuratively, not literally, to mean a secret which would bring about someone's downfall if it were revealed. It would be a fatal blow to their reputation.

It can also be used to refer to something that threatens health over the long term. An article in a health magazine might be entitled The Seven Deadly Secrets of Fast Food

It can also be used literally, to mean "fatal". He received a deadly wound.


It's 1. A 'deadly secret' is one which if learned by the wrong people would lead to someone's death.

You can have a 'deadly silence' meaning 'complete silence', and there are phrases such as 'dead ahead', 'dead stop', 'dead on time' that mean completely/exactly/totally, but 'deadly' and 'completely' are not, in general, synonyms.

  • Then what do you think of deadly secret in "Don’t say anything to anyone – this is meant to be a deadly secret"? Source: Macmillan Dictionary
    – Mori
    Feb 19, 2017 at 9:35

IMO, deadly in 'deadly secrets' stands as life taking.

Deadly secrets: The secrets which can be fatal/cause death of person who come to know about it.

And about the options you gave, I'll choose 1.

I agree that, This again is dependent on usage of this phrase in sentence.

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