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[sur-uh p-tish-uh s] /ˌsɜr əpˈtɪʃ əs/
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
late Middle English
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 forms
surreptitiously, adverb
surreptitiousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for surreptitiously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • surreptitiously she watched Peignton to see if he shared her disappointment.

    Lady Cassandra Mrs George de Horne Vaizey
  • As softly and as surreptitiously as it begins to rain on a cloudy day, she was crying.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • surreptitiously he searched the two big boxes carefully, inwardly hoping that she had not forgotten—nay, ignored—him.

    What's-His-Name George Barr McCutcheon
  • Why, indeed, was she back in England surreptitiously, and in that neighbourhood?

    The Doctor of Pimlico William Le Queux
  • Sasnett commanded, surreptitiously placing a dollar in the negro's hand to insure a quick departure.

    The Co-Citizens Corra Harris
British Dictionary definitions for surreptitiously


done, acquired, etc, in secret or by improper means
operating by stealth
characterized by fraud or misrepresentation of the truth
Derived Forms
surreptitiously, adverb
surreptitiousness, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for surreptitiously



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
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