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[fur-tiv] /ˈfɜr tɪv/
taken, done, used, etc., surreptitiously or by stealth; secret:
a furtive glance.
sly; shifty:
a furtive manner.
Origin of furtive
1480-90; < Latin furtīvus, equivalent to furt(um) theft (compare fūr thief) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
furtively, adverb
furtiveness, noun
1. clandestine, covert. 2. underhand, cunning. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for furtively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was furtively intent upon a gray limousine car, with several men in it, which had followed the taxi along the street.

    The Lion's Mouse C. N. Williamson and A. M. Williamson
  • I turned to Uncle Eb who, now and then, had furtively wiped his eyes.

    Eben Holden Irving Bacheller
  • Then he made a swift, diving movement under the counter, and furtively thrust the paper out at me.

    The Copperhead Harold Frederic
  • And while preparing for departure she watched the two furtively.

    The Patrician John Galsworthy
  • He furtively remarked the strained look on his daughter's face, as if she too were gazing at a picture that she couldn't buy.

British Dictionary definitions for furtively


characterized by stealth; sly and secretive
Derived Forms
furtively, adverb
furtiveness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin furtīvus stolen, clandestine, from furtum a theft, from fūr a thief; related to Greek phōr thief
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
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Word Origin and History for furtively

late 15c.; from furtive + -ly (2).



late 15c. (implied in furtively), from French furtif, from Latin furtivus "stolen, hidden, secret," from furtum "theft, robbery," from fur (genitive furis) "thief," probably from PIE *bhor-, from root *bher- (1) "to carry" (see infer). Related: Furtiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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