[ stelth ]
/ stɛlθ /
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See synonyms for: stealth / stealther / stealthest on Thesaurus.com

secret, clandestine, or surreptitious procedure.
a furtive departure or entrance.
  1. an act of stealing; theft.
  2. the thing stolen; booty.
Stealth, Military. a U.S. Air Force project involving a range of technologies, with the purpose of developing aircraft that are difficult to detect by sight, sound, radar, and infrared energy.
not openly acknowledged; surreptitious; secret: a stealth hiring of the competitor's CEO;the stealth issue of the presidential race.
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Origin of stealth

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English stelthe, stelth; compare Old English stælthing “theft”; see steal, -th1


stealthful, adjectivestealth·ful·ly, adverbstealthless, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does stealth mean?

Stealth is a specific way of acting or moving that is intended to be secret or of avoiding detection, as in The cat used its stealth to sneak up on the unsuspecting mouse. 

Stealth is also used to describe something that is secret or is trying to avoid detection, as in The thieves organized a stealth meeting, away from the watchful eyes of the detectives.

The adjectives stealthful and stealthy are used to describe something that uses stealth, as in The stealthy fox managed to avoid getting caught by the farmer’s dogs. 

Stealthily and stealthfully are used to describe something done with stealth, as in Santa Claus stealthily slipped the Christmas presents into the stockings to avoid waking the children.  

Example: The spy used cunning and stealth to sneak into the embassy and smuggle out the documents. 

Where does stealth come from?

The first records of stealth come from around 1200. It comes from Middle English stelthe or stelth and is related to the Old English stælthing, meaning “theft.” Stealth used to mean “theft” or the act of stealing, but this usage is now considered obsolete.

In popular culture, stealth is often an important quality for sneaky persons, such as spies, thieves, secret agents, and ninjas. Often, these crafty people have fancy gadgets or technology that allow them to avoid detection and enhance their stealth. In gaming, a character will often have a “stealth skill” to express how good (or bad) they are at sneaking around and avoiding getting found by enemies.

In real life, stealth is equally important for people or things that are trying to avoid being caught. For example, stealth jets and similar aircraft are designed to be difficult to see against the sky or to avoid radar equipment.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to stealth?

  • stealthful (adjective)
  • stealthily (adverb)
  • stealthless (adjective)

What are some synonyms for stealth?

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

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

How is stealth used in real life?

Stealth is a commonly used word to describe attempts at avoiding detection or being sneaky.

Try using stealth!

Which of the following words would NOT be a synonym of stealth?

A. covertness
B. furtiveness
C. openness
D. slyness

How to use stealth in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stealth (1 of 2)

/ (stɛlθ) /

the act or characteristic of moving with extreme care and quietness, esp so as to avoid detectionthe stealth of a cat
cunning or underhand procedure or dealing
archaic the act of stealing

Derived forms of stealth

stealthful, adjective

Word Origin for stealth

C13 stelthe; see steal, -th 1

British Dictionary definitions for stealth (2 of 2)

/ (stɛlθ) /

(modifier) informal denoting or referring to technology that aims to reduce the radar, thermal, and acoustic recognizability of aircraft and missiles
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