se·​cre·​tive | \ˈsē-krə-tiv, si-ˈkrē-\

Definition of secretive 

: disposed to secrecy : not open or outgoing in speech, activity, or purposes

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Other Words from secretive

secretively adverb
secretiveness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for secretive

silent, taciturn, reticent, reserved, secretive mean showing restraint in speaking. silent implies a habit of saying no more than is needed. the strong, silent type taciturn implies a temperamental disinclination to speech and usually connotes unsociability. taciturn villagers reticent implies a reluctance to speak out or at length, especially about one's own affairs. was reticent about his plans reserved implies reticence and suggests the restraining influence of caution or formality in checking easy informal conversational exchange. greetings were brief, formal, and reserved secretive, too, implies reticence but usually carries a suggestion of deviousness and lack of frankness or of an often ostentatious will to conceal. the secretive research and development division

Examples of secretive in a Sentence

He's very secretive about his work. the intelligence agency remained secretive despite the media's demands for more openness in government

Recent Examples on the Web

The Democrats’ Senate leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, called for the FBI to brief senators on their findings at least 24 hours before a vote, warning against an approach that is hasty or overly secretive. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "McConnell Presses Kavanaugh Vote as FBI Probe Nears an End," 3 Oct. 2018 Beryl had lived with her aunt during high school when her parents, John and Eileen Slocum, were away, occupied by a combination of cultural and secretive diplomatic duties. Michael Henry Adams, Town & Country, "Inside the Auction of Eileen Slocum's Astounding Newport Mansion," 28 Sep. 2018 In the latest demand, a bipartisan group of 16 House representatives is looking for answers on the still-secretive plan. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "House lawmakers want answers from Google on censored Chinese search engine," 14 Sep. 2018 Silicon Valley has a long and secretive history of building hardware and software for the military and law enforcement. Nitasha Tiku, WIRED, "Why Tech Worker Dissent Is Going Viral," 29 June 2018 Annie had a tortured relationship with her eccentric and secretive mother, who’s just died — her eulogy at the funeral is less than complimentary. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Hereditary is the terrifying arthouse horror film of the year," 1 June 2018 The event is both a groovy arts mixer and a highly secretive gathering for establishment elites; every Republican president since Coolidge has reportedly shown up, alongside your Kissingers and Rockefellers and corporate executives. Chris Colin, Outside Online, "Drawing a Line in the Sand Over River Rights," 30 May 2018 Since 2012, the company — backed by Germany’s wealthy and secretive Reimann family — has spent tens of billions of dollars to assemble a huge portfolio of eating and drinking brands., "Pret A Manger, UK sandwich chain, is sold to food giant JAB," 30 May 2018 Bitcoin mining is a decentralized and secretive industry. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "New study quantifies bitcoin’s ludicrous energy consumption," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'secretive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of secretive

1835, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for secretive

back-formation from secretiveness, partial translation of French secrétivité

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Statistics for secretive

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for secretive

The first known use of secretive was in 1835

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More Definitions for secretive



English Language Learners Definition of secretive

: not letting people see or know what you are doing or thinking : tending to act in secret


se·​cre·​tive | \ˈsē-krə-tiv, si-ˈkrē-\

Kids Definition of secretive

: tending to act in secret or keep secrets

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Comments on secretive

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


noxious or harmful

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