: not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed : veiled
a covert alliance
a covert military operation
covert racism
: covered over : sheltered
covert places in the woods
covertly adverb
covertness noun


2 of 2


: hiding place : shelter
: a thicket affording cover for game
: a masking or concealing device
: a feather covering the bases of the quills of the wings and tail of a bird see wing illustration
: a firm durable twilled sometimes waterproofed cloth usually of mixed-color yarns
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of covert in a Sentence

Adjective He has taken part in a number of covert military operations. spy agencies taking covert action Noun set up a covert from which to watch wildlife without being detected the rabbit rushed to the safety of the nearest covert
Recent Examples on the Web
Now, deputies have arrested the girlfriend and the manhunt has gone from covert to overt. Ben Brasch, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 There's a dual-sided brush for styling and laying down baby hairs, a handle that doubles as a covert wax case, and a wand for applying the perfect amount of product. Liana Schaffner, Allure, 21 Sep. 2023 Other forms of restraint related to espionage and covert action are hard to observe. Austin Carson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Sep. 2023 The covert op has targeted users in the US, Taiwan, UK, Australia, and Japan with positive commentary about China, including the country’s Xinjiang region, all the while criticizing Western foreign policies. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 29 Aug. 2023 When the couple were working as a covert team in Iran, their cover was almost compromised in a language slip-up. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2023 Brad Smith, the vice chairman and president of Microsoft, whose researchers analyzed the covert campaign, sharply criticized China for exploiting a natural disaster for political gain. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, 11 Sep. 2023 And although tactics of war—particularly covert operations like the event in question—are typically kept intensely confidential, Musk lifted the lid further on the operation and confirmed Ukraine’s plot. Byeleanor Pringle, Fortune, 8 Sep. 2023 And the ardently anti-bomb Mathé, suspicious of the project’s covert nature, has no intention of accepting an assignment so shrouded in secrecy that security agents almost outnumber the medical staff. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 12 Aug. 2023
The show clocks in at under a half hour, focuses on Mando, Grogu, and Bo-Katan in their new home with the Armorer and her covert, and is largely a collection of action set pieces. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2023 The main plot involves Ragnar, the kid whose helmet ceremony was interrupted in the season’s opening scene, being abducted by a dragon that has been bedeviling the covert for a while. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2023 The return to Mando’s covert was even better, as Bo-Katan is also welcomed to walk The Way alongside them, much to her surprise (and conflicted feelings). Erik Kain, Forbes, 15 Mar. 2023 That’s just after Mando is cast out from his Mandalorian covert for the cardinal sin of removing his helmet in the presence of others. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 26 May 2022 Hunting coverts of primary and secondary growth isn’t always easy, and Faust’s advice is to be physically prepared for a day in the uplands. Tom Keer, Field & Stream, 2 June 2020 The bonus of finding a spring singing field is that you also will have pinpointed an autumn covert. Tom Fegely, Field & Stream, 13 Apr. 2020 Back at the Tribe’s underground covert, the Mandalorian donates his full payment to his people. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, 22 Nov. 2019 In July, a bomb targeting the Afghan covert service killed eight members and six civilians, and wounded hundreds more. New York Times, 2 Sep. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'covert.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of covert was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near covert

Cite this Entry

“Covert.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/covert. Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
co·​vert ˈkō-(ˌ)vərt How to pronounce covert (audio) kō-ˈvərt How to pronounce covert (audio)
: not openly made or done
covert military operations
: covered over : sheltered
a covert nook
covertly adverb
covertness noun


2 of 2 noun
: hiding place : shelter
: a thicket giving cover to game

More from Merriam-Webster on covert

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