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I have stumbled on two phrasal verbs which perhaps mean the same thing. However, I decided to make sure whether they are interchangeable or there is any issue that I need to bear in mind prior to using each case properly.

Get out:

If news or information gets out, people hear about it although someone is trying to keep it secret:

  • I don't want it to get out that I'm leaving before I've had a chance to tell Anthony.

Leak out:

If secret information leaks out, people find out about it.

Scenario:

  • I have to tell you something top-secret! As a dignitary you'd better know that they're planning a coup. Besides, by taking part in that convention you have endangered yourself. If I were you, I would definitely leave the country as soon as I could! Now, you should make a decision! Anyway, I said my mind. You know the rest! Just be careful that this news doesn't.........

a. get out
b. leak out

To me, they both mean the same, just I am not quite sure aside from their interchangeability in this particular case, whether they convey the same level of formality or one is more formal than the other one. I was wondering if you could give me a hand with this question.

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This isn't a matter of formality, just a case where there are multiple options to say the same thing. These two phrases are interchangeable (mostly) in this case, but are not always interchangeable: they mean different things in other circumstances. For instance, you would probably not describe people as "leaking out" of anywhere, but they can still "get out" of somewhere. To "get" is just a word meaning to acquire something, in the case of movement ("to get to Rome") what you acquire is a change in location. "Leak" on the other hand means going into or out of something/somewhere in a way that goes against the design of the something/somewhere. A container has a leak if the bottom has a hole that wasn't supposed to be there.

Information can be both "acquired" (gotten) and given/lost in ways not intended (a leak in the security meant to keep the information contained). Therefore people use both terms to describe the "escape" of information. As the other answer noted, "leak out" can be more sinister, because it emphasizes that the information was not supposed to end up where it did. Information can be "gotten" without it being stolen or misplaced, but if it "leaks" then something has gone wrong!

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The meaning of the phrases is about the same, but "leak out" seems more sinister, so maybe it fits the conspiratorial scenario a tiny bit better.

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