What are the different nuances, if any, between the words 'unconcealed' and 'revealed'?

Example sentences:

"... In addition to that he is caught in a dilemma when he faces a life and death situation for the first time, where his talent becomes unconcealed for him to own.”

“... In addition to that he is caught in a dilemma when he faces a life and death situation for the first time, where his talent becomes revealed for him to own.”

Some background context: the 'talent' in question is the person's talent to fight and survive in a life and death situation. Seeing as the person, before the situation, was you're everyday person who is unaware of their own dormant talent (state of being) because they've never been in a situation that required the awakening of this talent (state of being turned into action) until that point in time, either word, as defined in the Meriam Webster dictionary, works.

In my own ignorant opinion as well, either one works, its just a matter of choosing the one that is more accurate at describing what's occurring.

The word unconcealed is defined as "openly shown" in the Meriam Webster dictionary. In my opinion, it works in the above sentence as the person's fighting talent is exposed or 'openly shown' to the commentator.

The word 'revealed' is defined as "to make (something secret or hidden) publicly or generally known" which again works as the talent was hidden up until the situation where average joe has to fight for his life.

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    What does the dictionary suggest? For instance, what is the difference between "not concealed" and "made known"? When I unconceal something, do I necessarily have to reveal it? – TaliesinMerlin May 1 '19 at 16:54
  • @TaliesinMerlin the differences between the two similar definitions is exactly why I'm asking in the first place. Meriam Webster says that "unconcealed" is defined as "openly shown" and that "revealed" is defined as "to make (something secret or hidden) publicly or generally known". My issue is that both are applicable in my example sentence, and I was hoping that by looking at the nuances that separate the word meanings I would know which one works better in my given example. – Toyu_Frey May 1 '19 at 17:03
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    There's a difference between simply not hiding something and showing it. In cases with an attentive audience, that gap is negligible. – The Nate May 1 '19 at 20:43

From Merriam-Webster:


2 : to make (something secret or hidden) publicly or generally known
// reveal a secret


: not concealed : openly shown
// unconcealed admiration/disappointment

So, first off, one describes an action, the other describes a state of being.

But, more importantly, if something is revealed, people are actively informed about it. But if something is unconcealed it is simply something that is observable.

In other words, I will definitely know about the existence of something that has been revealed to me. I may or may not know about something that is unconcealed. The former is more active, while the latter is more passive.

  • "The former is more active, while the latter is more passive." this, this right here is the issue I am wrestling with, as at the moment the speaker is talking about, the 'talent' shifts from the passive state to a active state of action, and thusly becomes observable, or revealed/unconcealed to the speaker. – Toyu_Frey May 1 '19 at 18:14
  • What if something is both revealed and unconcealed, as described in my edit? – Toyu_Frey May 1 '19 at 18:33
  • @Toyu_Frey There's no problem with using both, since they mean different things. Normally, however, if something is concealed, then all you would need to say is that you reveal it—because the action of revealing it would imply that it would have to first be unconcealed. – Jason Bassford May 1 '19 at 20:57
  • Perhaps most importantly, one of them is a verb and the other an adjective. – Mazura May 2 '19 at 3:04

I can only answer this usefully by applying my knowledge as a native speaker, looking at the implications and expectation of use of these terms, rather than their explicit dictionary definitions.

Unconcealed is a state which exists in which a thing is not concealed. It's essentially assumed to be a permanent, unchanging state.

Revealed is a change-based state - that is, a thing was concealed, and no longer is - it has been (or is being) revealed.

So for me, that first example sentence doesn't read properly at all, whereas the second is spot-on.

Hope that helps.

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    Your answer is what I was looking for, so it is a immense help! – Toyu_Frey May 1 '19 at 17:36
  • But on second thought, seeing as how the 'talent' is assumed to be permanently hidden and unchanged up until "he faces the life and death situation", wouldn't unconcealed be the better choice? – Toyu_Frey May 1 '19 at 17:39
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    no - the implication of unconcealed is that something is and was plainly observable - it's read as a permanent condition. Revealed explicitly means "was previously concealed and no longer is" – GerardFalla May 1 '19 at 17:46
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    Unconcealed implies nothing at all about permanence. Something that used to be concealed could now be unconcealed. Similarly, something that used to be unconcealed could now be concealed. – Jason Bassford May 1 '19 at 18:11
  • Because "revealed" means something was concealed and no longer is, "unconcealed" carries an implication that the thing was not concealed in the recent past, if ever. That does not imply any confidence that the thing will remain unconcealed in the future. – Monty Harder May 1 '19 at 22:05

The dictionary definitions provided by @JasonBassford are fairly clear for some situations. For example, if your character has a birthmark on his forehead, it would be unconcealed when he is not wearing a hat, but revealed at the moment he takes a hat off.

I think the important question to ask yourself is "Does my character look like someone who would have a talent for surviving life-and-death fights?" If he sports numerous scars and still has a tendency to stare down anyone who gets in his way, there is good reason to suspect he would have such a talent, to the point where you might consider it unconcealed.

On the other hand, if your character lacks a muscular physique and looks like he's never been in a fight, it would be quite a stretch to consider his talent to be unconcealed any time he is not actively fighting or at least showing off some moves...

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