Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[adjective koh-vert, kuhv-ert; noun kuhv-ert, koh-vert] /adjective ˈkoʊ vərt, ˈkʌv ərt; noun ˈkʌv ərt, ˈkoʊ vərt/
concealed; secret; disguised.
covered; sheltered.
Law. (of a wife) under the protection of one's husband.
a covering; cover.
a shelter or hiding place.
concealment or disguise.
Hunting. a thicket giving shelter to wild animals or game.
Also called tectrix. Ornithology. one of the small feathers that cover the bases of the large feathers of the wings and tail.
Origin of covert
1275-1325; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin coopertus, past participle of cooperīre to cover completely; see cover
Related forms
covertly, adverb
covertness, noun
Can be confused
covert, overt.
1. clandestine, surreptitious, furtive.
Pronunciation note
Covert, related to cover, has historically been pronounced
[kuhv-ert] /ˈkʌv ərt/ (Show IPA)
[uh] /ʌ/
the same stressed vowel found in cover. This
[uh] /ʌ/
is the traditional and unchallenged vowel in many other English words spelled with stressed o followed by v, voiced th, or a nasal in the same syllable, words of high frequency like love and above, mother and other, some and honey. The adjective covert, however, by analogy with overt
[oh-vurt, oh-vert] /oʊˈvɜrt, ˈoʊ vərt/
its semantic opposite, has developed the pronunciation
[koh-vert] /ˈkoʊ vərt/
perhaps because of the frequent coupling of the two terms in the news media. This is now the more common pronunciation for the adjective in American English, though not in British English, which retains the historical pronunciation. For the noun senses, less likely to appear in the news or to be contrasted with overt and its
[oh] /oʊ/
sound, the historical
[kuhv-ert] /ˈkʌv ərt/
remains the more frequent pronunciation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for covertly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Healy glanced at Phil swiftly, covertly, as the latter adjusted the glasses.

    Mavericks William MacLeod Raine
  • From her position at his side Jeanne covertly watched the silent man.

    The Promise James B. Hendryx
  • covertly at first, and then openly, Stillwater began seriously to question Mr. Taggett's method of working up the case.

    The Stillwater Tragedy Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  • I answered this by some sort of grunt, watching him covertly.

    'Twixt Land & Sea Joseph Conrad
  • Then she whispered, covertly, how rich Polly Brewster wasshe owned a great gold mine all in her own rights.

    Polly in New York Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • "Thanks for the invitation," he said aloud, as he covertly nursed his right hand.

    'Smiles' Eliot H. Robinson
British Dictionary definitions for covertly


concealed or secret: covert jealousy
(law) Compare feme covert, discovert
a shelter or disguise
a thicket or woodland providing shelter for game
short for covert cloth
(ornithol) any of the small feathers on the wings and tail of a bird that surround the bases of the larger feathers
a flock of coots
Derived Forms
covertly, adverb
covertness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French: covered, from covrir to cover
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for covertly



c.1300, from Old French covert "hidden, obscure, underhanded," literally "covered," past participle of covrir "to cover" (see cover). Related: Covertly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for covert

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for covertly

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for covertly