Synonym Chooser

How is the word clandestine distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of clandestine are covert, furtive, secret, stealthy, surreptitious, and underhanded. While all these words mean "done without attracting observation," clandestine implies secrecy usually for an evil, illicit, or unauthorized purpose and often emphasizes the fear of being discovered.

a clandestine meeting of conspirators

When is it sensible to use covert instead of clandestine?

The words covert and clandestine can be used in similar contexts, but covert stresses the fact of not being open or declared.

covert intelligence operations

When might furtive be a better fit than clandestine?

While the synonyms furtive and clandestine are close in meaning, furtive implies a sly or cautious stealthiness.

lovers exchanging furtive glances

Where would secret be a reasonable alternative to clandestine?

In some situations, the words secret and clandestine are roughly equivalent. However, secret implies concealment on any grounds for any motive.

met at a secret location

When can stealthy be used instead of clandestine?

Although the words stealthy and clandestine have much in common, stealthy suggests taking pains to avoid being seen or heard especially in some misdoing.

the stealthy step of a burglar

When is surreptitious a more appropriate choice than clandestine?

The meanings of surreptitious and clandestine largely overlap; however, 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

When could underhanded be used to replace clandestine?

While in some cases nearly identical to clandestine, underhanded stresses fraud or deception.

an underhanded trick

Thesaurus Entries Near clandestine

Cite this Entry

“Clandestine.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on clandestine

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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