Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Obtained, done, or made by clandestine or stealthy means.
  • adj. Acting with or marked by stealth. See Synonyms at secret.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. stealthy, furtive, well hidden, covert (especially movements)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Done or made by stealth, or without proper authority; made or introduced fraudulently; clandestine; stealthy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Done by stealth, or without legitimate authority; made or produced fraudulently; characterized by concealment or underhand dealing; clandestine.
  • Acting in a crafty or stealthy way; guilty of appropriating secretly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods
  • adj. marked by quiet and caution and secrecy; taking pains to avoid being observed

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin surreptīcius, from surreptus, past participle of surripere, to take away secretly : sub-, secretly; see sub- + rapere, to seize; see rep- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin surrepticius ("stolen, furtive, clandestine"), from surreptus, past participle of surripere ("seize secretly, steal, pilfer"), from sub- ("under") + rapere ("to snatch"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word surreptitious has appeared in 42 New York Times articles in the past year, including on May 29 in "French Broadcasters Told to Avoid Naming Social Media Sites," by Eric Pfanner:

    NYT > Home Page

  • Learn more about the word "surreptitious" and see usage examples across a range of subjects on the Vocabulary.com dictionary.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Terrorist will seek and potentially gain surreptitious entry into the United States to conduct mass casualty attacks against Americans on US soil.

    STATE DEFENSE FORCES

  • At its core, “macroeconomic management” is invariably an exercise in surreptitious theft and fraud.

    Matthew Yglesias » Justice and Stabilization

  • When he called a surreptitious meeting to try to get Emmerson

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Finally, insofar as President Bush has exercised his powers to engage in surreptitious electronic surveillance without court-issued warrants in violation of the FISA, on the basis of an implausibly broad construction of his inherent Article II powers and a reading of the AUMF that was rightly repudiated in a slightly different context by the Supreme Court's recent Hamdan decision, the "fix" reportedly negotiated between The White House and Senator Arlen Specter, in which the legality of the NSA program of warrantless surveillance would be submitted for adjudication on the basis of a one-sided presentation to the FISA court by the Executive Branch -- which alone would be authorized to control the evidence to be considered, the forum for its consideration, whether the proceedings would be public or secret, and whether the result would be published or kept under wraps, and which alone would be authorized to appeal an adverse ruling to an Article III court including the Supreme Court -- is as transparently phony and futile as is the suggestion of a congressionally enacted vehicle to confer standing on someone to obtain a judicial ruling on the legality of this President's signing statements.

    Balkinization

  • Or this was all surreptitious, which isn't true, due to state contracts.

    Renovation And Ed McMahon's Teeth

  • The two leading cases on so-called surreptitious entry, or what have come to be known as “sneak and peek” searches, came to very similar conclusions….

    Using the Drug "War" to Expand Government Power

  • He liked to speak elliptically, but he made it clear that he had on his staff at least one black-bag man that is, a surreptitious entry specialist although he never admitted having had him employ those talents.

    Will

  • After years of complaints about cramming - that is, the surreptitious dinging of customers via mystery charges that range from 99 cents to $19.99 - the Federal Communications Commission finally got fed up.

    Forbes.com: News

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