se·​cre·​tive ˈsē-krə-tiv How to pronounce secretive (audio)
: disposed to secrecy : not open or outgoing in speech, activity, or purposes
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

Example Sentences

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 Gravatt says Chaz became more secretive and moved back home with his parents. CBS News, 5 Nov. 2022 That means anyone caught on its future site risks a trip straight to jail for trespassing, a threat that makes life on the west side quieter and far more secretive. Jack Crosbie, Rolling Stone, 3 Sep. 2022 The government has become more secretive under Sogavare, Kabutaulaka said. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2022 But outside experts on the secretive, authoritarian country suggest that the report is merely an attempt to shift blame for the outbreak and invoke fear and hatred of South Korea. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 1 July 2022 Maier, secretive by nature, often holed up in the rooms her respective employers gave her inside their homes. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 June 2022 And that, in turn, can lead you to become financially secretive. Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, 16 May 2022 These matters are somewhat secretive within the industry. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 30 Apr. 2022 Davina Potratz has remained pretty secretive about her relationship status, and she's never had a partner or boyfriend appear on Selling Sunset. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, 21 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


back-formation from secretiveness, partial translation of French secrétivité

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of secretive was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near secretive

Cite this Entry

“Secretive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


se·​cre·​tive ˈsē-krət-iv How to pronounce secretive (audio)
: having a tendency toward secrecy and concealment : not frank or open
secretively adverb
secretiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on secretive

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