Definition of surreptitious in English:



  • Kept secret, especially because it would not be approved of.

    ‘low wages were supplemented by surreptitious payments from tradesmen’
    • ‘After all, if there is no chocolate dessert on hand, it just might lead to surreptitious stealing of the children's chocolate eggs.’
    • ‘He kept on pointing out that these people were all, in a very surreptitious way, propagandists for extreme conservative Catholicism.’
    • ‘Thanks to e-mail, the modern workplace is a hive of covert communication and surreptitious sociability.’
    • ‘This, for anyone not in the know, is the surreptitious act of slapping size 10 labels on clothes that are really a 12.’
    • ‘The 15 youngsters all pledged not to indulge in a surreptitious snack when they went home to bed after a video evening at the church, without the pop corn.’
    • ‘Very often staff feel that their colleagues have been silently and invisibly spirited out of the company in a surreptitious and clandestine manner.’
    • ‘A no-fly zone is reported to have been enforced so that paparazzi cannot take surreptitious snaps from helicopters.’
    • ‘Zara was casually fanning herself with her picture, but when she thought no one was watching stole long, slow, surreptitious looks at it.’
    • ‘We don't need this surreptitious attempt at re-direction of our considerable traffic.’
    • ‘There appears to be an increasing amount of surveillance, much of it surreptitious.’
    • ‘It is also surreptitious and insidious discrimination.’
    • ‘A burning ember becomes a surreptitious reference to a tense nation teetering on collapse.’
    • ‘The stowing of the rubbish seemed surreptitious, even furtive, to a young and ignorant mind.’
    • ‘They acted like some surreptitious athletics officials who could not wait to be the first to give the media a scoop and doubtless court future favour as a reward.’
    • ‘He was quite sure it would be restored that afternoon, he said, with quiet emphasis and a surreptitious glance at his watch.’
    • ‘She has been reflecting on the fact that it is ten years since she left school, and surreptitious elements of old school uniform have crept into her recent work.’
    • ‘They're all meeting in the cafeteria to plot against Veronica, and the way you shot it, you get right away that it's surreptitious.’
    • ‘Under British and American law this surreptitious sale is illegal.’
    • ‘Today during afternoon break I went for a surreptitious puff with two co-workers.’
    • ‘He speaks loudly, and endearingly frankly, and occasionally steals a surreptitious glance over his shoulder to make sure the room is indeed empty.’
    secret, stealthy, clandestine, secretive, sneaky, sly, furtive, concealed, hidden, undercover, covert, veiled, under the table, cloak-and-dagger, backstair, indirect
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘obtained by suppression of the truth’): from Latin surreptitius (from the verb surripere, from sub- secretly + rapere seize) + -ous.