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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web Concerns grew that rail cars could be outfitted with surreptitious spying capabilities or backdoor access to launch cyberattacks — claims CRRC repeatedly denied and called baseless. Washington Post, "Metro selects Hitachi Rail to build its next-generation rail car," 6 Oct. 2020 Their obsession with multisyllabic words (nitroglycerin, surreptitious, caricature) made some songs feel like SAT essays. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Audacity of Panic! at the Disco’s Debut Album," 30 Sep. 2020 Many of the suits, filed on behalf of users as young as 8 years old, allege that surreptitious use of facial-recognition technology and other biometric data was a key ingredient to TikTok’s secret sauce. David Uberti, WSJ, "TikTok Strives to Settle Privacy Lawsuit as Oracle Deal Nears," 14 Sep. 2020 Christina went through all of that trouble to gain surreptitious access to the house because it was initially owned by a man named Horatio Winthrop. Ariana Romero,, "Lovecraft Country Episode 3 Recap: Welcome To Leti’s Haunted House," 31 Aug. 2020 These three surreptitious slides can be combined to make arguments dramatically weaker through these less noticeable increments. Eugenia Cheng, Wired, "How to Undo Gender Stereotypes in Math—With Math!," 25 Aug. 2020 Instead of trying to take surreptitious photographs, the crowd focused on a different task: photosynthesis. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Audience of Plants Roots for Barcelona Opera House on Opening Night," 24 June 2020 At this point in time, experts said there's little reason to fear surreptitious tracking — at least not from a microchip. Camille Caldera, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Americans won’t have microchips implanted by end of 2020," 2 Aug. 2020 But the historically large seizure wasn't exactly surreptitious. Sarah Haselhorst, The Enquirer, "Synthetic drugs, controlled substances seizure was the largest in Cincinnati history," 27 June 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for surreptitious

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for surreptitious

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Surreptitious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for surreptitious


How to pronounce surreptitious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surreptitious

: done in a secret way

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