surreptitious

adjective
sur·​rep·​ti·​tious | \ ˌsər-əp-ˈti-shəs How to pronounce surreptitious (audio) , ˌsə-rəp-, sə-ˌrep- \

Definition of surreptitious

1 : done, made, or acquired by stealth : clandestine
2 : acting or doing something clandestinely : stealthy a surreptitious glance

Other Words from surreptitious

surreptitiously adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for surreptitious

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 surreptitious in a Sentence

The letter didn't offer up the jewels, only shadowy suggestions about their disappearance, claiming that [heiress, Carolyn] Skelly, in a surreptitious trading of parcels with "a man in an ankle-length tweed overcoat," had left a bag full of jewelry on the floor at J.F.K. — Mark Seal, Vanity Fair, December 2001 In the early evening as we gathered in the lobby beneath mounted elk heads and bear skins, the lights of the chandelier flickered mysteriously. But the teacher and I both spied the surreptitious action of the desk clerk, whose sheepish smile acknowledged that one brief hotel mystery had been solved. Other signs of pranking there included a "ghost" photo (displayed in a lobby album) that the clerk confided to me was staged, and some pennies, placed on the back of a men's room toilet, that from time to time would secretly become rearranged to form messages—like the word "why?" that I encountered. — Joe Nickell, Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2000 The next week offered [FBI agent] Wiser the opportunity he had been waiting for. Ames was leaving the country, going to Ankara for a weeklong international conference on drugs. Wiser went to Bryant for permission to run a … surreptitious search of Ames' garbage. But the chief was dead set against it. — Tim Weiner et al., Rolling Stone, 29 June 1995 She had a surreptitious relationship with her employee. a private investigator adept at taking surreptitious pictures of adulterous couples
Recent Examples on the Web While these concerns may seem relatively new, pop star celebrity Madonna has been raising alarm bells about the potential for nonconsensual, surreptitious collection and testing of DNA for over a decade. Liza Vertinsky, The Conversation, 3 June 2022 The surreptitious surgeries began occurring at plastic surgery clinics in South Korea in the 2010s, after the government started promoting medical tourism as an economic driver, according to legal experts. John Yoon, New York Times, 13 May 2022 Deep in the center of the rosebush and hidden from plain view, pests and disease can get a surreptitious foothold that can end up being very challenging to your entire rose garden. Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 May 2022 The New York Times reported that the detection system was installed Wednesday, and violators may be asked to leave the theater or delete any surreptitious footage. Janine Henni, PEOPLE.com, 12 May 2022 In October 2020, the Sussexes sued and forced another paparazzi agency to confess and apologize for taking surreptitious photos, allegedly by drones, of their son Archie in their Los Angeles rental backyard. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 24 Feb. 2022 Some suggest that the U.S. move MiG fighters (and presumably other equipment) near the Polish—Ukrainian border for surreptitious pickup by Ukrainian pilots. John Yoo, National Review, 19 Mar. 2022 Nevertheless, Val forms a bond with the 9-year-old girl, known as Sigrid, and conducts a surreptitious and increasingly dangerous investigation into Andy’s death. Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2022 There is good reason to believe that Nelly became pregnant; that Dickens sequestered her in France, making frequent surreptitious visits to her; and that a child was born there who either died in infancy or was put up for adoption. The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of surreptitious

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surreptitious

Middle English, from Latin surrepticius, from surreptus, past participle of surripere to snatch secretly, from sub- + rapere to seize — more at rapid

Learn More About surreptitious

Time Traveler for surreptitious

Time Traveler

The first known use of surreptitious was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near surreptitious

surrendry

surreptitious

surreverence

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for surreptitious

Last Updated

9 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Surreptitious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/surreptitious. Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on surreptitious

Nglish: Translation of surreptitious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surreptitious for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!