se·​cre·​tive | \ ˈsē-krə-tiv How to pronounce secretive (audio) , 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 most expensive and secretive planes to ever be made, the B-2 bombers are worth $2.1 billion each. Fox News, "B-2 stealth bomber flies just 60 feet above impressed plane spotters' heads," 14 Sep. 2019 The complaint has given the public a rare look into the Aryan Brotherhood — also known as the AB and The Brand — considered one of the nation’s most dangerous and secretive prison gangs. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "‘Build an army’: Aryan Brotherhood leaders attempted to rule over all white California prison gangs, feds say," 31 Aug. 2019 Several technology and privacy experts see the IDEIA pitch deck as an unusually honest presentation of increasingly commonplace, but secretive, political targeting methods. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, "A ‘big data’ firm sells Cambridge Analytica’s methods to global politicians, documents show," 14 Aug. 2019 Because price negotiations among insurers, drugmakers and middlemen are often highly competitive and secretive, the tools often don’t have data for everyone. Kaiser Health News,, "Here’s how you can lower your prescription costs, with your doctor’s help," 13 July 2019 As methodical and secretive as the process has been, expect Leonard to take his time in announcing his decision (or someone leaking the news). Dan Loumena,, "Kawhi Leonard sets Toronto abuzz with reported airport arrival," 3 July 2019 Bryant Estate, whose Pritchard Hill Cab sells for $550 a bottle, has always been one of Napa Valley’s most revered and secretive wineries, owned by heavy-hitter art collector Don Bryant and his wife, former professional ballet dancer Bettina Bryant. Esther Mobley,, "Cult wineries and craft breweries in a changing world," 20 June 2019 The secretive, shady enclosure reconstituted the spirit of a swimming hole: a hole within a hole. New York Times, "The Magic of Swimming Holes," 18 Aug. 2019 YouTube’s software algorithms determine how videos are placed in search results and viewing recommendations, and the company is notoriously secretive about them. Mark Bergen, Los Angeles Times, "YouTube boosting ‘quality’ kids’ videos wreaked havoc on some channels," 1 Aug. 2019

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

18 Sep 2019

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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 How to pronounce secretive (audio) , 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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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