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 The Courant had reported the existence of the surreptitious telephone recording system in State Police Barracks and the reports were followed closely by federal investigations. Edmund H. Mahony,, 5 Oct. 2021 What begins as a correspondence between poets blossoms into a series of surreptitious meetings in Barrett’s room. Elizabeth Lund, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Sep. 2021 The episodes also addressed skepticism about the police department’s initial investigations and even included surreptitious recordings of Madison Hamburg’s discussions with detectives at the department. Zach Murdock,, 11 Sep. 2021 The bank and the Trump Organization have denied the claims, and the FBI investigation didn't find evidence of surreptitious communications between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report. Evan Perez And Katelyn Polantz, CNN, 16 Sep. 2021 Although Wendy persuades Axe to drop this terrible idea in front of Taylor, a surreptitious FaceTime to Mafee confirms that no one can stop this grudge-holding billionaire from twisting the knife. Sarene Leeds, Vulture, 12 Sep. 2021 Inflation is the most dangerous, cowardly, and surreptitious way to handle our massive debts and unfunded liabilities. Bob Haber, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 During the recent visit, the men conducted the ancient blessing, in which priests make V’s with each hand, spreading their ring and middle fingers, and quietly recited a special benediction, while others performed surreptitious bows while praying. Ilan Ben Zion, ajc, 25 Aug. 2021 Those players work together, completing menial tasks to keep everything up and running, while one or two of them are cast as surreptitious double agents who assassinate those oblivious crewmates. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 19 Aug. 2021

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

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Surreptitious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of surreptitious

: done in a secret way

More from Merriam-Webster on surreptitious

Nglish: Translation of surreptitious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surreptitious for Arabic Speakers


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