[see-kri-tiv, si-kree-]
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Origin of secretive

1425–75; late Middle English; back formation from secretiveness (itself modeled on French secrétivité). See secret, -ive
Related formsse·cre·tive·ly, adverbse·cre·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for secretive

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  1. secretory.

Origin of secretive

2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for secretive

Contemporary Examples of secretive

Historical Examples of secretive

  • He was not a reserved man, but a secretive, which is quite a different thing.

    The Slave Of The Lamp

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • It was, he supposed, a woman's way to be secretive in such matters, and he must not blame her.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • The soul of hospitality leaped from his face, stern and secretive though it was.

    St. Cuthbert's

    Robert E. Knowles

  • His opponent, still with his secretive smile, took up the caster.

    In Kings' Byways

    Stanley J. Weyman

  • "I think I inherited most of his secretive qualities," Shirley continued.

    David Lannarck, Midget

    George S. Harney

British Dictionary definitions for secretive


  1. inclined to secrecy; reticent
  2. another word for secretory
Derived Formssecretively, adverbsecretiveness, noun
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 secretive

"inclined to secrecy," 1815 (implied in secretiveness); see secret (n.) + -ive. The word also was in Middle English with a sense "secret, hidden" (mid-15c.). Related: Secretively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper