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Is bestowing anonymity the right way to say "keeping someones identity secret?"

Basically the author is writing about someone, a fallen dictator and his nasty goings on, without using the name of the dictator.
Could you say he is protecting himself from further repercussions? Would he be bestowing anonymity or is there another (nice) way of saying it?

the anonymous person would be the dictator, not the poet

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Do you mean the author is keeping his own identity secret or that of someone else (e.g. shielding his sources)? –  Dusty Mar 22 '11 at 17:51
    
I recommend putting the phrase itself in the title of the question: "Is 'bestowing anonymity' the right term or expression?" –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 17:51
    
So, the edit didn't really clarify it. Is the him he's keeping nameless the author or the dictator? –  Dusty Mar 22 '11 at 18:10
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4 Answers 4

I don't think anonymity can be bestowed. If it is present, it may be preserved or protected.

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You can bestow anonymity to someone who doesn't currently have it. It would be akin to hiding them a la witness protection or erasing identifying information from a document. –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 17:50
    
Witness protection is an interesting exception. But removing information from a document only preserves anonymity which has not yet been breached by the distribution of the document. –  SingLow Mar 22 '11 at 17:53
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It would still fit the phrase "bestow." One person is giving another anonymity. "Anonymity" is not limited to the scope of every person. I can be anonymous with exceptions. Returning a document to a state that protects someone's anonymity can be seen as a gift. –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 18:00
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"Bestowing" implies giving someone something. If you are "giving anonymity" then this will work fine. If the person is already anonymous and you want to keep it that way, "keeping" or "protecting" anonymity may be a better choice.

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But "giving anonymity" is contradictory; you can't take back information that is already public. Witness protection is an entirely different level of activity, creating (new) identity rather than anonymity as such. –  user1579 Mar 22 '11 at 18:04
    
"Public" isn't a necessary scope of anonymity. Think more along the lines of a draft: The first draft has personal information. The editor removes that information and puts fake names into the paper. The draft now has anonymity when before it did not. Essentially: Anonymity can be seen as a state that has nothing to do with the people who may or may not know something. –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 18:08
    
Wait: I figured out the impasse: The paper can be in a state of anonymity. I can bestow anonymity to the paper which, in turn, protects the anonymity of the author. –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 18:10
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Generally -- and in the sense that the OP asks about -- anonymity can't be bestowed. It's either present or it isn't. It can, however, be maintained.

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Odd. I am apparently in the complete minority here. Can anonymity be not present and then, later, be present? –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 18:25
    
@MrHen: no, because people don't forget things on command. Anonymity is a binary state: either it exists or it doesn't, and once it has ceased to exist, only the passage of time can restore it (and only in limited circumstances). –  Marthaª Mar 22 '11 at 23:00
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Bestowing is giving an honor or a right. Probably you mean “ensuring his/her anonymity”.

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