Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective co·vert \ˈkō-(ˌ)vərt, kō-ˈ; ˈkə-vərt\

Simple Definition of covert

  • : made, shown, or done in a way that is not easily seen or noticed : secret or hidden

Full Definition of covert

  1. 1 :  not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed :  veiled <a covert alliance>

  2. 2 :  covered over :  sheltered

co·vert·ly adverb
co·vert·ness noun

Examples of covert

  1. He has taken part in a number of covert military operations.

  2. spy agencies taking covert action

Origin of covert

Middle English, from Anglo-French, past participle of coverir to cover

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of covert

secret, covert, stealthy, furtive, clandestine, surreptitious, underhanded mean done without attracting observation. secret implies concealment on any grounds for any motive <met at a secret location>. covert stresses the fact of not being open or declared <covert intelligence operations>. stealthy suggests taking pains to avoid being seen or heard especially in some misdoing <the stealthy step of a burglar>. furtive implies a sly or cautious stealthiness <lovers exchanging furtive glances>. clandestine implies secrecy usually for an evil, illicit, or unauthorized purpose and often emphasizes the fear of being discovered <a clandestine meeting of conspirators>. surreptitious applies to action or behavior done secretly often with skillful avoidance of detection and in violation of custom, law, or authority <the surreptitious stockpiling of weapons>. underhanded stresses fraud or deception <an underhanded trick>.



noun co·vert \ˈkə-vərt, ˈkō-vərt also ˈkə-vər\

Definition of covert

  1. 1 a :  hiding place :  shelter b :  a thicket affording cover for game c :  a masking or concealing device

  2. 2 :  a feather covering the bases of the quills of the wings and tail of a bird — see wing illustration

  3. 3 :  a firm durable twilled sometimes waterproofed cloth usually of mixed-color yarns

Examples of covert

  1. <set up a covert from which to watch wildlife without being detected>

  2. <the rabbit rushed to the safety of the nearest covert>

14th Century

First Known Use of covert

14th century

Other Hunting and Fishing Terms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up covert? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez spindrift duvet kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.