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[fur-tiv] /ˈfɜr tɪv/
taken, done, used, etc., surreptitiously or by stealth; secret:
a furtive glance.
sly; shifty:
a furtive manner.
Origin of furtive
1480-90; < Latin furtīvus, equivalent to furt(um) theft (compare fūr thief) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
furtively, adverb
furtiveness, noun
1. clandestine, covert. 2. underhand, cunning. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for furtive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • After stealing a furtive glance at him the girl took a step backward.

  • And in the low bushes could be discerned the lurking, furtive, shadowy jackals.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • Vona found a sort of furtive uneasiness in the way he glanced out of the window and fingered his vest-pocket equipment.

  • How noisy and romping the brook was; how capricious, how playful, how furtive!

  • Railsford gave a furtive look down the table, and encountered the eyes of Mr Bickers fixed discontentedly on him.

    The Master of the Shell Talbot Baines Reed
British Dictionary definitions for furtive


characterized by stealth; sly and secretive
Derived Forms
furtively, adverb
furtiveness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin furtīvus stolen, clandestine, from furtum a theft, from fūr a thief; related to Greek phōr thief
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 furtive

late 15c. (implied in furtively), from French furtif, from Latin furtivus "stolen, hidden, secret," from furtum "theft, robbery," from fur (genitive furis) "thief," probably from PIE *bhor-, from root *bher- (1) "to carry" (see infer). Related: Furtiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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