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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 surreptitiously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The best of them he contrived to deal with himself, secretly and surreptitiously.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • surreptitiously Naomi pinched her hip till it felt black and blue.

  • As softly and as surreptitiously as it begins to rain on a cloudy day, she was crying.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • He and his wife were taking lessons from Prue surreptitiously at their own home.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • Why, indeed, was she back in England surreptitiously, and in that neighbourhood?

    The Doctor of Pimlico William Le Queux
British Dictionary definitions for surreptitiously


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 surreptitiously



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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