Word: surreptitious

Pronunciation: sə-rəp-TI-shəs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: kept secret, especially because it would not be approved of

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


“Surreptitious” is one of those words that I loved from the moment I first heard it just for the way it sounds. There’s something about it that rolls nicely off the tongue, or at least off mine. Of course, when I learned what the word means, that made me love it even more. I do enjoy discovering words related to secrets.

A “surreptitious” activity is one that is carried out in secret, usually because it would be frowned upon by those who would otherwise be aware of it. The word comes from the Latin adjective surreptitius “concealed”, which in turn is derived from the verb surripere, meaning “to steal” or “to take away secretly”. This verb is comprised of the preposition sub “under” and the verb rapere “to seize”.

I rarely use the word “surreptitious” myself, but when I do, I make sure it fits perfectly not just with the present context, but with the overall theme of the story. For example, the last time I used it was in a story about the Romeo-and-Juliet-esque forbidden love between two teenagers, in which it was used to describe the main characters’ secret affair. I feel like the word carries an air of deep mystery to it, so I would highly recommend it for works with such themes. If you enjoy writing mysteries or secret affairs, a “surreptitious” event is certain to fit into your stories! Have fun!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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