A Word A Day : Surreptitious

Monday, 11th February 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : sùr-ep-tíshess


1. done in a concealed or underhand way to escape notice, especially disapproval

2. trying to avoid being noticed

3. Obtained, done, or made by clandestine or stealthy means

4. Conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods

5. Marked by quiet and caution and secrecy


Middle English, from Latin surreptīcius, from surreptus, past participle of surripere, to take away secretly : sub-, secretly - see sub– + rapere, to seize


furtive, secret, sneaky, sly, clandestine, stealthy, underhanded, secretive, hush-hush, covert, underhand

Covert (concealed, covered, hidden) is the opposite of overt (apparent, open to view, plain, public).

Insidious (Latin insidere 'to lie in wait for,' from sedere 'sit') describes stealthy, treacherous behavior.

Invidious behavior arouses ill will, animosity, or hostility.


aboveboard, honest, open, forthright, public, authorized

Contextual Examples:

• The dinner guest surreptitiously slipped a few silver spoons into his jacket as he was leaving the dining room.

• The baby-sitter mixed herself a surreptitious cocktail as soon as Mr. and Mrs. Robinson had driven away.

• The State leaders may even make a merit of their surreptitious invasions of it on the ground of some temporary convenience, exemption, or advantage.

• Let me propose your name for membership in the Imperial Order of Abnormal Proboscidians, of which I am the High Noble Toby and Surreptitious Treasurer.

• We did all our best to move out of this place in order to attempt a surreptitious escape from the presence of the mighty one.

Related Words:

surreptitiously : Adverb

surreptitiousness : Noun

Common Misspellings of Surreptitious:



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