keep one’s own counsel

noun, plural coun·sel for 3.

  1. advice; opinion or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another.
  2. interchange of opinions as to future procedure; consultation; deliberation.
  3. Law. (used with a singular or plural verb) the advocate or advocates engaged in the direction of a cause in court; a legal adviser or counselor: Is counsel for the defense present?
  4. deliberate purpose; plan; design.
  5. Theology. one of the advisory declarations of Christ, considered by some Christians as not universally binding but as given for aid in attaining moral perfection.
  6. Archaic. a private or secret opinion or purpose.
  7. Obsolete. wisdom; prudence.

verb (used with object), coun·seled, coun·sel·ing or (especially British) coun·selled, coun·sel·ling.

  1. to give advice to; advise.
  2. to urge the adoption of, as a course of action; recommend (a plan, policy, etc.): He counseled patience during the crisis.

verb (used without object), coun·seled, coun·sel·ing or (especially British) coun·selled, coun·sel·ling.

  1. to give counsel or advice.
  2. to get or take counsel or advice.

  1. keep one’s own counsel, to conceal one’s ideas or opinions; keep silent.
  2. take counsel, to ask for or exchange advice, ideas, or opinions; deliberate; consult.


  1. advice or guidance on conduct, behaviour, etc
  2. discussion, esp on future procedure; consultationto take counsel with a friend
  3. a person whose advice or guidance is or has been sought
  4. a barrister or group of barristers engaged in conducting cases in court and advising on legal matterscounsel for the prosecution
  5. a policy or plan
  6. Christianity any of the counsels of perfection or evangelical counsels, namely poverty, chastity, and obedience
  7. counsel of perfection excellent but unrealizable advice
  8. private opinions or plans (esp in the phrase keep one’s own counsel)
  9. archaic wisdom; prudence

verb -sels, -selling or -selled or US -sels, -seling or -seled

  1. (tr) to give advice or guidance to
  2. (tr; often takes a clause as object) to recommend the acceptance of (a plan, idea, etc); urge
  3. (intr) archaic to take counsel; consult

early 13c., from Old French counseil (10c.) “advice, counsel; deliberation, thought,” from Latin consilium “plan, opinion” (see consultation). As a synonym for “lawyer,” first attested late 14c.


late 13c., from Old French conseiller “to advise, counsel,” from Latin consiliari, from consilium “plan, opinion” (see counsel (n.)). Related: Counseled. Counseling “giving professional advice on social or psychological problems” dates from 1940.

Say little or nothing about one’s opinions or intentions. For example, Betty is notorious for keeping her own counsel; you never know what she really thinks. This expression employs counsel in the sense of “a secret,” a usage dating from about 1300.

see keep one’s own counsel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

52 queries 1.441