in secret, unknown to others; in private; secretly: A resistance movement was already being organized in secret.

Origin of secret

1350–1400; Middle English secrette < Old French secret < Latin sēcrētus hidden, orig. past participle of sēcernere to secern
Related formsse·cret·ly, adverbse·cret·ness, nounnon·se·cret, adjective, nounnon·se·cret·ly, adverbqua·si-se·cret, adjectivequa·si-se·cret·ly, adverbsem·i·se·cret, adjectivesem·i·se·cret·ly, adverbsu·per·se·cret, nounul·tra·se·cret, adjectiveul·tra·se·cret·ly, adverbun·se·cret·ly, adverb

Synonyms for secret

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

Examples from the Web for secretly

Contemporary Examples of secretly

Historical Examples of secretly

  • I secretly hoped for a silk, but Mother, to whom I suppose I am even now—now!

  • The arrival of Winkleman would, he secretly admitted, upset him completely.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Plainly, Evadna was secretly laughing at her perturbed interest in the matter.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Secretly he was hoping that Evadna heard the explanation, and he raised his voice purposely.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • From which I infer that you secretly think her manner equal to her looks?'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for secretly



kept hidden or separate from the knowledge of othersRelated adjective: cryptic
known only to initiatesa secret password
hidden from general view or usea secret garden
able or tending to keep things private or to oneself
operating without the knowledge of outsidersa secret society
outside the normal range of knowledge


something kept or to be kept hidden
something unrevealed; mystery
an underlying explanation, reason, etc, that is not apparentthe secret of success
a method, plan, etc, known only to initiates
liturgy a variable prayer, part of the Mass, said by the celebrant after the offertory and before the preface
in the secret among the people who know a secret
Derived Formssecretly, adverb

Word Origin for secret

C14: via Old French from Latin sēcrētus concealed, from sēcernere to sift; see secern
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 secretly

early 15c., from secret (adj.) + -ly (2).



late 14c., from Latin secretus "set apart, withdrawn; hidden, concealed, private," past participle of secernere "to set apart, part, divide; exclude," from se- "without, apart," properly "on one's own" (see se-) + cernere "separate" (see crisis).

As an adjective from late 14c., from French secret, adjective use of noun. Open secret is from 1828. Secret agent first recorded 1715; secret service is from 1737; secret weapon is from 1936.



"to keep secret" (described in OED as "obsolete"), 1590s, from secret (n.). Related: Secreted; secreting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with secretly


see in secret; open secret.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.