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 furtively

Contemporary Examples of furtively

Historical Examples of furtively

  • Faust gave a little start and searched Dixon's face, furtively.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Chip held the creams to a walk and furtively watched his companion.

  • If they watched me furtively whenever I went out of doors, I affected not to see it.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • That evening in his library, from my seat by the table, I furtively watched my father's face.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Not once did they suggest a meeting, nor did they ever furtively exchange a kiss.

    Therese Raquin

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for furtively



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 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