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I just posed this question on sci-fi.stackexchange and had my wording corrected from reveal to revelation.

I realise that to have said that too early in the film would have ruined the big reveal. Is there some in-universe reason for Palpatine to refer to Luke's father as Anakin? Some kind of psychological game that Palpatine is playing with Vader, perhaps?

I thought reveal was the correct word but I wanted to check the difference with experts.

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The "correct" word is revelation. There might be slang/dialectal use of reveal in such a context, but I don't think I've ever come across it. –  FumbleFingers Apr 2 '12 at 23:00
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@FumbleFingers sure enough, Wiktionary has this: "reveal, n, plural reveals [...] (cinematography) A revelation; an uncovering of what was hidden. The reveal in that movie was great." Not that I have heard that before, either. –  RegDwigнt Apr 2 '12 at 23:03
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@RegDwight: I suspect it's a pretty new nounification. Here in 2005, and here in 2006 both have the word "in quotes", indicating that even people immersed in the movie context thought it was new/odd at the time. –  FumbleFingers Apr 2 '12 at 23:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Reveal is used as a noun to mean a final revelation previously kept from the characters or viewers in a film or television show.

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Could you be a fellow HGTV addict? (I thought of that meaning of reveal right away.) –  JLG Apr 3 '12 at 0:11

Not only is it fine: it's in Oxford Dictionaries.

(In a film or television programme) A final revelation of information that has previously been kept from the characters or viewers:

The big reveal at the end of the movie answers all questions

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Ummm . . . your link is not the OED, but the ODO (Oxford Dictionaries Online). See oxforddictionaries.com/words/…. –  zpletan Apr 2 '12 at 23:37
    
Oops. Corrected. However, since it's in ODO it's unlikely that that definition is not in the OED. Must re-establish my OED subscription. –  Andrew Leach Apr 2 '12 at 23:51
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I can confirm that it's in the printed 1973 edition of the OED. I consider it a perfectly fine word; usually used in a story to mean the part that gives everything away. –  user16269 Apr 3 '12 at 6:28
    
Would you mind actually giving some content here? A link is not considered a substantive answer. –  Mitch Apr 3 '12 at 13:35
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I associate the noun form of 'reveal' with magic tricks; the 'reveal' is the explanation or slow showing of a trick, which 'reveals' the actual circumstances (the preparation, the legerdemain) behind the magic. –  Mitch Apr 3 '12 at 13:39

Reveal is fine; in this context it is synonymous with revelation. Reveal is more commonly a verb than a noun, so this is probably a case of overcorrection; it's probably more common than alternatives like divulgence, for example.

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According to the OED this use of reveal as a noun was common until the 18th century, after that it was considered obsolete. But it came into use again with the predecessors of reality TV in the 1950s (think Candid Camera). I suspect it has gained in usage as an alternative to "revelation" because of the religious or connotations of the latter.

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