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From Middle English overt, uverte (open, uncovered; unfastened; accessible, unobstructed; clear, manifest), from Anglo-Norman overt, Middle French ouvert, Old French overt, ouvert, uvert (opened) (modern French ouvert), past participle of Anglo-Norman, Old French ovrir, ouvrir, uvrir (to open),[1] from Late Latin operire, variant of Latin aperīre (to open),[2] from aperiō (to open, uncover), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂epó (away; from) + *h₂wer- (to cover, shut). The English word is a doublet of apert and ouvert.



overt (not comparable)

  1. Open and not concealed or secret.
    Synonyms: manifest, open, patent, plain, unconcealed
    Antonyms: covert, hidden, nonovert; see also Thesaurus:covert
    • 1696 October 31, The Tryal, and Condemnation of Capt. Thomas Vaughan. For High Treason, in Adhering to the French-King, and for Endeavouring the Destruction of His Majesty’s Ships in the Nore. [], London: Printed for John Everingham [], published 1697, →OCLC, page 11:
      The buſineſs of Overt-Acts is, where the Compaſſing and Imagining the King's Death is the Crime and Queſtion, and this muſt be diſcover'd by Overt-Acts. But if the Treaſon be falſifying of the King's Money, this is Treaſon, but there can be no Overt-Act of that, for that is an Overt-Act in it ſelf; but there muſt be an Overt-Act to prove the Compaſſing and Imagining the Death of the King, and in no other ſort of Treaſon.
    • 1864 April 28, Justice Blackburn [i.e., Colin Blackburn, Baron Blackburn], “Crane v. The London Dock Company”, in The Jurist. [], volume X, part I, number 511 (New Series), London: H. Sweet, []; Stevens, Sons, & Haynes, []; Dublin: Hodges, Smith, & Co., [], published 22 October 1864, →OCLC, pages 987–988:
      [T]he essence of a sale in a market overt is, that the goods should be openly exposed in the ordinary way, and also that the whole transaction should take place there, and at one time. If a man make a contract for certain goods which are not in market overt, and subsequently the goods are delivered, and the property ultimately passes in market overt, that would not be within the privilege of market overt, [...]
    • 1993, Murray Print, “Introducing Curriculum”, in Curriculum Development and Design, 2nd edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, →ISBN, pages 12–13:
      Students receive hidden messages from their participation in classroom activites, by attending school and by virtue of the context of school in society. [...] Educators have argued that children should, for example, acquire non-sexist approaches to the learning of values and attitudes in schools and that it is the curriculum's direct responsibility to enhance that learning. Consequently action must be taken in the overt curriculum to overcome the learnings acquired through the hidden curriculum.
    • 1999, Deidre Wicks, “A New Framework”, in Nurses and Doctors at Work: Rethinking Professional Boundaries, Sydney, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, →ISBN, pages 20–21:
      How do we know that power is operating in certain social relationships? [...] This is not such a problem where there is a clear and overt conflict of interest [...] but what of those situations where there is no such awareness; where domination exists in the absence of overt violence or even conflict?
  2. (heraldry) Disclosed.
    • 1874, John Woody Papworth, An Alphabetical Dictionary of Coats of Arms Belonging to Families in Great Britain and Ireland, page 298:
      Arg. an eagle rising wings overt inverted sa. armed or. HILTOFTE, V.


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overt (plural overts)

  1. (Scientology) An action or condition said to be detrimental to one’s own survival and thus unethical; the consciousness of such behaviour.
    Hyponym: withhold
    • 1990, Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed[1], →ISBN, page 148:
      Scientologists are sure that the person must have “overts” against Scientology, therefore nothing a former member says can be trusted.
    • 2006 February 23, Janet Reitman, “Inside Scientology”, in Rolling Stone:
      Masturbation is an overt—strictly forbidden in Scientology, as Hubbard believed that it can slow one’s process to enlightenment.
    • 2019 October 17, Thomas C. Tobin, Joe Childs, “Part 1 — Scientology: The Truth Rundown”, in Tampa Bay Times:
      Anyone who leaves has committed “overts” (harmful acts) against the church and is withholding them. The church is obligated to make such people come clean, Hubbard said, because withholding overts against Scientology can lead to suicide or death by disease.

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  1. ^ overt, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 25 January 2019.
  2. ^ overt, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2004; “overt”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.


Old French[edit]


From Vulgar Latin *opertus, from Latin apertus.



  1. past participle of ovrir


  • Middle French: ouvert
    • French: ouvert (see there for further descendants)
  • Norman: ouvaert, ouvert; ouvèrt
  • Middle English: overt, uverte