secret 1 of 2

as in confidence
information shared only with another or with a select few you didn't really expect him to keep a secret from his wife, did you?

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as in mystery
something hard to understand or explain the secrets of the Egyptian pyramids include the construction methods used to lift the huge blocks of stone in place

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2 of 2


as in undercover
working on missions in which one's objectives, activities, or true identity are not publicly revealed secret agents whose wartime exploits were known only by top government officials

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as in secluded
screened or sequestered from view a secret cave that is screened by trees

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Synonym Chooser

How is the word secret distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of secret are clandestine, covert, furtive, stealthy, surreptitious, and underhanded. While all these words mean "done without attracting observation," secret implies concealment on any grounds for any motive.

met at a secret location

When would clandestine be a good substitute for secret?

While the synonyms clandestine and secret are close in meaning, clandestine implies secrecy usually for an evil, illicit, or unauthorized purpose and often emphasizes the fear of being discovered.

a clandestine meeting of conspirators

In what contexts can covert take the place of secret?

In some situations, the words covert and secret are roughly equivalent. However, covert stresses the fact of not being open or declared.

covert intelligence operations

When is furtive a more appropriate choice than secret?

The synonyms furtive and secret are sometimes interchangeable, but furtive implies a sly or cautious stealthiness.

lovers exchanging furtive glances

When is it sensible to use stealthy instead of secret?

The words stealthy and secret can be used in similar contexts, but stealthy suggests taking pains to avoid being seen or heard especially in some misdoing.

the stealthy step of a burglar

Where would surreptitious be a reasonable alternative to secret?

The words surreptitious and secret are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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 secret?

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

an underhanded trick

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Cite this Entry

“Secret.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

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