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 formsfur·tive·ly, adverbfur·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for furtive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for furtive

Contemporary Examples of furtive

Historical Examples of furtive

  • And in the low bushes could be discerned the lurking, furtive, shadowy jackals.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Told under the breath, with furtive glances to right and to left.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • How noisy and romping the brook was; how capricious, how playful, how furtive!

  • The pink plump face was contorted in a furtive grimace of deprecation.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • I stayed with her, casting displeased and furtive glances at the Prince.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for furtive



characterized by stealth; sly and secretive
Derived Formsfurtively, adverbfurtiveness, noun

Word Origin for furtive

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

Word Origin and History for furtive

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