Covert vs overt

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Covert and overt are antonyms, which are two words that have opposite meanings from one another. We will look at the difference between the words covert and overt, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Covert means concealed, not in the open, not acknowledged, disguised. The word is often used in the term covert operation, which describes a secret action usually perpetrated by an intelligence agency. The word covert is derived from the French word covert, which means covered, obscure, hidden. Covert is an adjective, related words are the adverb covertly and the noun covertness.

Overt describes something that is done out in the open, something easily observable. The word often carries the connotation of something done blatantly or defiantly, but not always. Overt is derived from the Old French word overt, which means open. It is also an adjective, related words are the adverb overtly and the noun overtness.


Covert gambling houses raided in Cumberland County, $100,000 seized (The Fayette Observer)

Elite educational institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) should have no place for caste discrimination, but this prevails in an “overt and covert” manner in the varsity, BJP MP and chairman of parliament’s Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Faggan Singh Kulaste has said. (The Times of India)

Most of us, especially at a place like Harvard (I graduated from there in 2013), have learned to avoid making our sexist, racist or otherwise bigoted thoughts so overt by now. (The Guardian)

There are those who decry what they believe is overt political correctness that serves to slam a door on free speech.  (The Columbian)