[ see-kri-tiv, si-kree- ]
/ ˈsi krɪ tɪv, sɪˈkri- /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: secretive / secretiveness on Thesaurus.com

having or showing a disposition to secrecy; reticent: He seems secretive about his new job.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of secretive

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


se·cre·tive·ly, adverbse·cre·tive·ness, noun

Other definitions for secretive (2 of 2)

[ si-kree-tiv ]
/ sɪˈkri tɪv /


Origin of secretive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


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.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to secretive?

What are some synonyms for secretive?

What are some words that share a root or word element with secretive

What are some words that often get used in discussing secretive?

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

How to use secretive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for secretive

/ (ˈsiːkrɪtɪv, sɪˈkriːtɪv) /

inclined to secrecy; reticent
another word for secretory

Derived forms of secretive

secretively, 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