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[see-kri-tiv, si-kree-] /ˈsi krɪ tɪv, sɪˈkri-/
having or showing a disposition to secrecy; reticent:
He seems secretive about his new job.
Origin of secretive1
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English; back formation from secretiveness (itself modeled on French secrétivité). See secret, -ive
Related forms
secretively, adverb
secretiveness, noun
secret, close. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for secretively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Across the street, at another window, the curtain had secretively moved.

    Main Street Sinclair Lewis
  • Then he went to astonish the Pennimans with his news, only to find that Winona had secretively nursed it even longer than he had.

    The Wrong Twin Harry Leon Wilson
  • We "did" the Pyramid of Unas, dilapidated without, secretively beautiful within.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Dreams, ambitions, longings—all these had evaporated slowly and secretively during the twenty-six years, vanished into thin air.

    Gargoyles Ben Hecht
  • The children were crying, Kathleen impulsively and without restraint, Desmond secretively, as men are accustomed to weep.

    Grey Town Gerald Baldwin
  • He sometimes attacks openly, but usually does so secretively, with the cunning of the tiger, and kills and slaughters.

    Quintus Oakes Charles Ross Jackson
British Dictionary definitions for secretively


/ˈsiːkrɪtɪv; sɪˈkriːtɪv/
inclined to secrecy; reticent
another word for secretory
Derived Forms
secretively, adverb
secretiveness, noun
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 secretively



"inclined to secrecy," 1815 (implied in secretiveness); see secret (n.) + -ive. The word also was in Middle English with a sense "secret, hidden" (mid-15c.). Related: Secretively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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