"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[adj. koh-vert, kuhv-ert; n. kuhv-ert, koh-vert] /adj. ˈkoʊ vərt, ˈkʌv ərt; n. ˈkʌv ərt, ˈkoʊ vərt/
concealed; secret; disguised.
covered; sheltered.
Law. (of a wife) under the protection of one's husband.
a covering; cover.
a shelter or hiding place.
concealment or disguise.
Hunting. a thicket giving shelter to wild animals or game.
Also called tectrix. Ornithology. one of the small feathers that cover the bases of the large feathers of the wings and tail.
Origin of covert
1275-1325; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin coopertus, past participle of cooperīre to cover completely; see cover
Related forms
covertly, adverb
covertness, noun
Can be confused
covert, overt.
1. clandestine, surreptitious, furtive.
Pronunciation note
Covert, related to cover, has historically been pronounced
[kuhv-ert] /ˈkʌv ərt/ (Show IPA)
[uh] /ʌ/
the same stressed vowel found in cover. This
[uh] /ʌ/
is the traditional and unchallenged vowel in many other English words spelled with stressed o followed by v, voiced th, or a nasal in the same syllable, words of high frequency like love and above, mother and other, some and honey. The adjective covert, however, by analogy with overt
[oh-vurt, oh-vert] /oʊˈvɜrt, ˈoʊ vərt/
its semantic opposite, has developed the pronunciation
[koh-vert] /ˈkoʊ vərt/
perhaps because of the frequent coupling of the two terms in the news media. This is now the more common pronunciation for the adjective in American English, though not in British English, which retains the historical pronunciation. For the noun senses, less likely to appear in the news or to be contrasted with overt and its
[oh] /oʊ/
sound, the historical
[kuhv-ert] /ˈkʌv ərt/
remains the more frequent pronunciation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for covertly
  • Everyone would turn into a living zombie with an identification number covertly tagged.
  • It tells us nothing about what kinds of cause-effect functional relations are going on when a subject overtly or covertly behaves.
  • It is unconscionable to covertly reformat itself while continuing to hide behind scientific reporting.
  • Generally, a service provider or government will want to conduct its activities covertly.
  • Their faces were covertly compared with a database of known criminals, using a facial-recognition system.
  • covertly recorded conversations and videos have become a tactic to discredit rivals.
  • Plainclothes officers now covertly buy drugs almost daily, gathering intelligence for convictions.
  • Some governments covertly harp on this naive adage to coerce their people to be obedient citizens.
  • Any two of them can join together, covertly or overtly, against the third member of the triangle.
  • At an opportune time, a foreign spy covertly plants software on her laptop.
British Dictionary definitions for covertly


concealed or secret: covert jealousy
(law) Compare feme covert, discovert
a shelter or disguise
a thicket or woodland providing shelter for game
short for covert cloth
(ornithol) any of the small feathers on the wings and tail of a bird that surround the bases of the larger feathers
a flock of coots
Derived Forms
covertly, adverb
covertness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French: covered, from covrir to cover
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
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Word Origin and History for covertly



c.1300, from Old French covert "hidden, obscure, underhanded," literally "covered," past participle of covrir "to cover" (see cover). Related: Covertly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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