: not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed : veiled
a covert alliance
a covert military operation
covert racism
: covered over : sheltered
covert places in the woods
covertly adverb
covertness noun


2 of 2


: hiding place : shelter
: a thicket affording cover for game
: a masking or concealing device
: a feather covering the bases of the quills of the wings and tail of a bird see wing illustration
: a firm durable twilled sometimes waterproofed cloth usually of mixed-color yarns
Choose the Right Synonym for covert

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

Example Sentences

Adjective He has taken part in a number of covert military operations. spy agencies taking covert action Noun set up a covert from which to watch wildlife without being detected the rabbit rushed to the safety of the nearest covert
Recent Examples on the Web
Yet unlike the brand-centric boutiques in this regal square, the Collection Paris remains covert—or at least discreet—and dedicated to its 100 members. Brad Spurgeon, Robb Report, 22 Mar. 2023 Despite these obstacles, women continue to shatter overt and covert barriers and pave the way for future generations. Dr. Ruth Gotian, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2023 Based on the 2007 book Integrity, White House Plumbers follows the White House Plumbers—a covert White House Special Investigations Unit established in the wake of the Pentagon Papers to stop leaking of classified information to the press. Laura Zornosa, Time, 16 Dec. 2022 South Korean officials said recently that North Korea has been turning to cybercrime and covert ship-to-ship transfers of unauthorized goods as a way to violate those U.N. sanctions. Niniek Karmini, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Dec. 2022 These gummies are an enjoyable and covert way to get ripped! Atticus Mckittrick, Discover Magazine, 19 Oct. 2022 Before long, censors scrubbed photos from social media along with any direct or covert mention of the display. Stephanie Yang, Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2022 First-round voting on the thousands of candidates on the initial ballot takes place Oct. 22 through Nov. 5, so expect a lot of official or covert FYC campaigning right before America’s midterms. Chris Willman, Variety, 12 Oct. 2022 American officials have been frustrated with Ukraine’s lack of transparency about its military and covert plans, especially on Russian soil. Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, 5 Oct. 2022
The main plot involves Ragnar, the kid whose helmet ceremony was interrupted in the season’s opening scene, being abducted by a dragon that has been bedeviling the covert for a while. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2023 The return to Mando’s covert was even better, as Bo-Katan is also welcomed to walk The Way alongside them, much to her surprise (and conflicted feelings). Erik Kain, Forbes, 15 Mar. 2023 That’s just after Mando is cast out from his Mandalorian covert for the cardinal sin of removing his helmet in the presence of others. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 26 May 2022 Hunting coverts of primary and secondary growth isn’t always easy, and Faust’s advice is to be physically prepared for a day in the uplands. Tom Keer, Field & Stream, 2 June 2020 The bonus of finding a spring singing field is that you also will have pinpointed an autumn covert. Tom Fegely, Field & Stream, 13 Apr. 2020 Back at the Tribe’s underground covert, the Mandalorian donates his full payment to his people. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, 22 Nov. 2019 In July, a bomb targeting the Afghan covert service killed eight members and six civilians, and wounded hundreds more. New York Times, 2 Sep. 2019 The two-person rear bench seat coverts into a small double bed and a second double bed fits in the pop-top, allowing the Sixty to sleep four. Megan Barber, Curbed, 1 Oct. 2018 See More

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

Word History


Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, past participle of coverir to cover

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of covert was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near covert

Cite this Entry

“Covert.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/covert. Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
co·​vert ˈkō-(ˌ)vərt How to pronounce covert (audio) kō-ˈvərt How to pronounce covert (audio)
: not openly made or done
covert military operations
: covered over : sheltered
a covert nook
covertly adverb
covertness noun


2 of 2 noun
: hiding place : shelter
: a thicket giving cover to game

More from Merriam-Webster on covert

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