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


having or showing a disposition to secrecy; reticent: He seems secretive about his new job.

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

Examples from the Web for secretively

Contemporary Examples of secretively

Historical Examples of secretively

  • Across the street, at another window, the curtain had secretively moved.

    Main Street

    Sinclair Lewis

  • Then he went to astonish the Pennimans with his news, only to find that Winona had secretively nursed it even longer than he had.

    The Wrong Twin

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • We "did" the Pyramid of Unas, dilapidated without, secretively beautiful within.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Dreams, ambitions, longings—all these had evaporated slowly and secretively during the twenty-six years, vanished into thin air.


    Ben Hecht

  • The children were crying, Kathleen impulsively and without restraint, Desmond secretively, as men are accustomed to weep.

    Grey Town

    Gerald Baldwin

British Dictionary definitions for secretively



inclined to secrecy; reticent
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 secretively



"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