[sur-uh p-tish-uh s]


obtained, done, made, etc., by stealth; secret or unauthorized; clandestine: a surreptitious glance.
acting in a stealthy way.
obtained by subreption; subreptitious.

Origin of surreptitious

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin surreptīcius stolen, clandestine, equivalent to surrept(us), past participle of surripere to steal, (sur- sur-2 + rep-, combining form of rapere to snatch, rape1 + -tus past participle suffix) + -īcius -itious
Related formssur·rep·ti·tious·ly, adverbsur·rep·ti·tious·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for surreptitious

Contemporary Examples of surreptitious

Historical Examples of surreptitious

  • Maddalena hid the death-charm once more with a movement that was surreptitious.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • But he did not complete his reference to last night's surreptitious conversation.

    The Martian Cabal

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • With his sandalled foot the friar caught the fool a surreptitious kick.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • I'm persuaded they're playing some deep and surreptitious game at present.

  • She was in the lowest of spirits, and blinked away some surreptitious tears.

British Dictionary definitions for surreptitious



done, acquired, etc, in secret or by improper means
operating by stealth
characterized by fraud or misrepresentation of the truth
Derived Formssurreptitiously, adverbsurreptitiousness, noun

Word Origin for surreptitious

C15: from Latin surreptīcius furtive, from surripere to steal, from sub- secretly + rapere to snatch
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 surreptitious

mid-15c., from Latin surrepticius "stolen, furtive, clandestine," from surreptus, past participle of surripere "seize secretly," from sub "from under" (hence, "secretly") + rapere "to snatch" (see rapid). Related: Surreptitiously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper