View synonyms for secretive



[ see-kri-tiv, si-kree- ]


  1. having or showing a disposition to secrecy; reticent:

    He seems secretive about his new job.

    Synonyms: close, secret



[ si-kree-tiv ]



/ ˈsiːkrɪtɪv; sɪˈkriːtɪv /


  1. inclined to secrecy; reticent
  2. another word for secretory

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Derived Forms

  • ˈsecretiveness, noun
  • ˈsecretively, adverb

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Other Words From

  • secre·tive·ly adverb
  • secre·tive·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of secretive1

1425–75; late Middle English; back formation from secretiveness (itself modeled on French secrétivité ). See secret, -ive

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Example Sentences

This year, Mind the Gap, a secretive Silicon Valley donor group supporting progressive candidates, is also sending donors their way, according to Vox.

These arachnids are usually secretive, and almost all you meet are neither aggressive nor dangerous.

The review process is highly secretive, but according to the Washington Post, the panel has launched dozens of investigations this year alone, aimed primarily at companies that received investment from China or Russia.

From Fortune

Their plans by all estimations have remained very secretive.

After a somewhat lackluster beginning to his professional running career, Farah and his family moved to Oregon early in 2011 to join the secretive Nike program based at the Beaverton world headquarters.

From Fortune

The military has been trying to stop current and former special operators from discussing their secretive profession.

They dislike cell phones and they are, for various practical reasons, somewhat secretive.

The mayor responded defiantly with a kind of military pageant that was truly bizarre for such a secretive organization.

The Long Range Strike Bomber may be the most secretive Pentagon aviation program in decades.

Even the arguably more secretive National Security Agency took the Twitter plunge last December.

How could she be at the same time both cruel and tender, both true and false, frank and secretive, spiritual and sensual?

He was a secretive man who shared no secrets with his neighbors if he could help it, yet whose very idiosyncrasies betrayed them.

He was still in no hurry, but he grew cautious now, and secretive.

Some of the tribes are very secretive and stealthy in their movements.

If a child finds that no one will speak to it about sexual matters, it must ultimately become secretive about its own sexual life.


Related Words

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More About Secretive

What does secretive mean?

Secretive is commonly used to describe people or organizations that are prone to secrecy—they avoid revealing information about themselves and try to keep their actions private. The word secretive can also be used to describe such actions.

People who are secretive often don’t let other people get to know them very well, often by keeping secrets about their life. They may do this because they have something to hide or because they don’t trust other people.

Organizations described as secretive are often those that hide details about their operations. A secretive company may be one that closely guards information about its product development or financial situation.

Animals described as secretive are those that tend to stay hidden.

Describing things or people as secretive often implies that you are suspicious of them because it seems like they are hiding something.

An unrelated and less common meaning of secretive is based not on secret but on the verb secrete. This sense of secretive means involving the process of secretion—the production and release of substances from specialized cells within an organism, such as glands. For example, the pancreas can be described as secretive in this way because it secretes digestive fluid and insulin. Another word for this is secretory.

Example: I always ask Sylvie about her weekend plans, but she’s so secretive that she only smiles furtively and walks away.

Where does secretive come from?

The first records of the word secretive come from the 1400s. The adjective-forming suffix -ive indicates a tendency or characteristic—in this case, the tendency to keep secrets.

Some people are secretive about everything—they like their life to be private and they don’t like others knowing much or anything about them. Some artists are secretive about their process. Some companies are known for being secretive about what they’re working on so it doesn’t get leaked to competitors or the public. Some field guides describe certain birds as secretive because they’re known for their tendency to stay hidden, such as by always staying in thick reeds.

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How is secretive used in real life?

Describing someone of something as secretive often implies suspicion of that person or thing.




Try using secretive!

Which of the following terms would not be used to describe someone considered secretive?

A. taciturn
B. forthright
C. tight-lipped
D. close-mouthed