I am looking for an American English word meaning "the forcible exposure or revelation" of something. The context I have in mind is something similar to the leak of documents by a whistleblower or the like. A negative or destructive connotation isn't necessary, but would be appropriate.

Alternative meanings come to mind here (if this doesn't just confuse things):

  1. a word meaning "the exposure of some body of information or other contents"
  2. a word meaning "the revelation of the contents of some entity"

I think it's really #2 that I'm after, so that an example sentence describing the leak of, e.g., tax records, might be something like "the ______ of the IRS."

Despoliation comes to mind, but that isn't right. Grateful for any ideas.

  • Not a single word, but "the airing of the IRS's dirty laundry" might work.
    – samgak
    Mar 26, 2016 at 6:39
  • It's called Freedom of Information, but the phrase sits awkwardly with your IRS sample sentence. You could say "the solicitation of information from the IRS pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act", but this is also a significant modification of your sample sentence. (NB: this assumes you're after the legally-enforced requirement to reveal information - it's like, but it's not, an unauthorised leak by a whistleblower.)
    – Lawrence
    Mar 26, 2016 at 6:40
  • that is close @samgak, thank you, but I'm really looking for a word that has the entity (in this example the IRS) as its object. airing --> dirty laundry, spilling --> secrets, etc., and most of the other things I've been able to think of all have the contents themselves as the object. I wonder if there's a word that describes the opening of the container.
    – wallace
    Mar 26, 2016 at 6:46
  • I don't have any good answers for you, but a couple of potential leads: (1) Undercover law enforcement officers speak of their cover being "blown" when their identities are revealed.  (2) I believe that this has dropped in popularity and acceptability over the past couple of decades, but, for a while, "out" was used as a verb, meaning to reveal that a person was homosexual.  For example: "The gossip columnist outed the famous singer."  (This was a reference to forcing the person to "come out of the closet".) Mar 26, 2016 at 7:26
  • Do you mean "making something public" (or availbale to the public) or do you refer to "public dissemination"?
    – Graffito
    Mar 26, 2016 at 9:33

1 Answer 1


The exposure of something previously secret is known as disclosure.

This applies to both forced and unforced revelations.

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