co·​vert | \ ˈkō-(ˌ)vərt How to pronounce covert (audio) , kō-ˈvərt How to pronounce covert (audio) , ˈkə-vərt How to pronounce covert (audio) \

Definition of covert

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed : veiled a covert alliance a covert military operation covert racism
2 : covered over : sheltered covert places in the woods


co·​vert | \ ˈkə-vərt How to pronounce covert (audio) , ˈkō-vərt How to pronounce covert (audio) also ˈkə-vər How to pronounce covert (audio) \

Definition of covert (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : hiding place : shelter
b : a thicket affording cover for game
c : a masking or concealing device
2 : a feather covering the bases of the quills of the wings and tail of a bird — see wing illustration
3 : a firm durable twilled sometimes waterproofed cloth usually of mixed-color yarns

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Other Words from covert


covertly adverb
covertness noun

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

Examples of covert in a Sentence

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Mohammad Eslami, now in charge of Iran’s nuclear program, worked with Pakistan’s rogue scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, in 1987 to build Iran’s then-covert centrifuge program to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Robert Joseph, National Review, 3 Oct. 2021 But a covert sustainability barrier has morphed from a decade of (somewhat misguided) sustainable fashion initiatives that warrants examination. Brooke Roberts-islam, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 The film opens in 1996 with a teenage Cletus Kasady (Jack Bandeira) sitting in a cell in St. Estes Orphanage, sending covert messages through a pipe to his love, Frances Barrison (Olumide Olorunfemi), occupying an adjacent cell. Robert Daniels, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2021 Marijuana is a common, if sometimes covert, element of American life. Krithika Varagur, WSJ, 29 Sep. 2021 That results in warring powers—namely the Atreides and Harkonnens—resorting to exactly the sort of restricted, covert, deceptive tactics that defined modern conflict during the Cold War and ever since. Andy Greenberg, Wired, 28 Sep. 2021 So the Russians tried covert subversive action by putting in some paramilitary forces and militia the Wagner Group. NBC News, 20 June 2021 But Sister Ortiz’s case became part of a sweeping review of American foreign policy and covert action in Guatemala during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. New York Times, 20 Feb. 2021 And Franzen, more than most contemporary writers of his calibre, operates in this covert mode almost exclusively. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 To keep these images and video covert, cheaters may have a special cloud service. Kim Komando, Fox News, 15 Sep. 2018 Gates himself has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and vowed to help Mueller's investigation into Russia's covert influencing of the election. Josh Hafner, USA TODAY, 28 Mar. 2018 When spelling the word out doesn’t work, Pig Latin is another way to keep, say, a potential trip to the ark-pay or oo-zay covert. Mark Peters,, 11 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of covert


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

History and Etymology for covert

Adjective and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for covert

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near covert

cover symbol



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Last Updated

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Covert.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for covert



English Language Learners Definition of covert

: made, shown, or done in a way that is not easily seen or noticed : secret or hidden


co·​vert | \ ˈkəv-ərt How to pronounce covert (audio) , ˈkō-vərt \

Kids Definition of covert

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: made or done secretly a covert glance covert military operations

Other Words from covert

covertly adverb



Kids Definition of covert (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a hiding place (as a thicket that gives shelter to game animals)
2 : one of the small feathers around the bottom of the quills on the wings and tail of a bird

More from Merriam-Webster on covert

Nglish: Translation of covert for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of covert for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about covert


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