Furtive is behaving secretly and quietly to avoid being noticed. Furtive originates with the Latin word fur (thief), which in turn may have originated with the Greek phōr (thief). Furtive was first used in the English language in the early 17th century and it meant “done in a way so as not to be seen”. Later furtive also came to mean “stolen” though this was a much less common usage.
Furtive is a rather stealthy word, one that could be used for all kinds of mischievous and devious ends. To be furtive implies that one is sly and practices a cautious stealthiness. To give a furtive glance means one is being covert as they scan a place or person. To behave furtively, one is often being clandestine and underhanded. Being furtive doesn’t always mean being dishonest, but it does mean being secret and sneaky.
A quick, furtive glace so as not to be caught…
Furtive is another one of those fantastic words I feel I’ve always just known and have thrown about without giving much thought to it’s origin. I blame my love of cheesy romance novels and mystery thrillers – you know, the ones I sometimes read furtively, lol. How have you come across the word furtive in your day-to-day?
Namaste ~ Ella
** If there’s a word you’d like to see added to the Word Nerd roster, please feel free to contact me or suggest it in the comments – I enjoy feedback and recommendations!