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[sur-uh p-tish-uh s] /ˌsɜr əpˈtɪʃ əs/
obtained, done, made, etc., by stealth; secret or unauthorized; clandestine:
a surreptitious glance.
acting in a stealthy way.
obtained by subreption; subreptitious.
Origin of surreptitious
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin surreptīcius stolen, clandestine, equivalent to surrept(us), past participle of surripere to steal, (sur- sur-2 + rep-, combining form of rapere to snatch, rape1 + -tus past participle suffix) + -īcius -itious
Related forms
surreptitiously, adverb
surreptitiousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for surreptitious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Maddalena hid the death-charm once more with a movement that was surreptitious.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • But he did not complete his reference to last night's surreptitious conversation.

    The Martian Cabal Roman Frederick Starzl
  • With his sandalled foot the friar caught the fool a surreptitious kick.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
  • I'm persuaded they're playing some deep and surreptitious game at present.

  • She was in the lowest of spirits, and blinked away some surreptitious tears.

  • I looked round, and the Countess blew me a surreptitious kiss.

    The King's Mirror Anthony Hope
  • With a swift, surreptitious motion he straightened his necktie.

    Mountain Blood Joseph Hergesheimer
British Dictionary definitions for surreptitious


done, acquired, etc, in secret or by improper means
operating by stealth
characterized by fraud or misrepresentation of the truth
Derived Forms
surreptitiously, adverb
surreptitiousness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin surreptīcius furtive, from surripere to steal, from sub- secretly + rapere to snatch
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 surreptitious

mid-15c., from Latin surrepticius "stolen, furtive, clandestine," from surreptus, past participle of surripere "seize secretly," from sub "from under" (hence, "secretly") + rapere "to snatch" (see rapid). Related: Surreptitiously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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