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From Middle English stelthe, from Old English stǣlþ, from Proto-Germanic *stēliþō,[1] equivalent to steal +‎ -th. Compare Old English stalu (theft, stealth), Old High German stāla (theft), German Diebstahl (theft).


  • enPR: stĕlth, IPA(key): /stɛlθ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛlθ


stealth (countable and uncountable, plural stealths)

  1. (uncountable) The attribute or characteristic of acting in secrecy, or in such a way that the actions are unnoticed or difficult to detect by others.
  2. (archaic, countable) An act of secrecy, especially one involving thievery.
    • c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Measure for Measure”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene iii]:
      Claudio.[...] But it chances
      The stealth of our most mutuall entertainment
      With Character too grosse, is writ on Iuliet.
    • 1877, George Hill, An Historical Account of the Plantation in Ulster at the Commencement of the Seventeenth Century, M'Caw, Stevenson & Orr, page 352:
      [The King] thinks it fit[...] that restitution according to this order be made to the petitioners for stealths committed upon them last winter (273).

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stealth (third-person singular simple present stealths, present participle stealthing, simple past and past participle stealthed)

  1. (especially military, computing) To conceal or infiltrate through the use of stealth.
  2. (slang, transitive) To subject (someone) to stealthing (sexual intercourse without a condom through deception, for example removing the condom mid-act).
    • 2018 November 6, Lux Alptraum, Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex--And the Truths They Reveal, Seal Press, →ISBN:
      For her, there's a clear link between this behavior and that of avowed stealthers: : both stem from a place of sexism and misogyny, and to the extent that they differ, it's only by degree. Tellingly, Davis's work treats deception as merely one of several ways that men engage in the behavior she terms "condom use resistance." [] To the best of my knowledge, I've never been stealthed.
    • 2019 January 29, Shaun Sinclair, Blood Ties, Dafina, →ISBN:
      [He] tried to stealth her but Nikki checked him quick. “Unh-unh. You better strap up.” “Word?” “Word nigga.” “A'ight, a'ight.” Justus slid a condom on and entered Nikki real slow.
    • 2019 November 5, Iris Morland, Oopsie Daisy: A Steamy Romantic Comedy: Professor Student Accidental Pregnancy Romance, Blue Violet Press LLC:
      [] condom. I'd seen him put it on and take it off afterward, so it wasn't like he'd tried to stealth me. Plus, my periods had always been irregular, so I could go six weeks before it appeared. When had I last gotten it, though? I couldn't []
    • 2021 December 24, Brianna Chesser, Nadia David, April Zahra, Consent, Stealthing and Desire-Based Contracting in the Criminal Law, Routledge, →ISBN:
      In Australia, one in three women and one in five men [...] in 2018 said they had been stealthed. The occurrence of stealthing is not exclusive to heterosexual intercourse, and while the majority of []
    • 2021 November 9, Rosie Campbell, Teela Sanders, Sex Work and Hate Crime: Innovating Policy, Practice and Theory, Springer Nature, →ISBN:
      For example a sex worker complained about a client who 'stealthed' her by removing a condom and prosecuted him for rape. The court found him guilty (R v Campos).



  1. Surreptitious; secret; not openly acknowledged.
  2. (military, aviation, vehicles, technology) Having properties that diminish radar signatures.
  3. (transgender) Hiding one's transgender status (in general or in specific areas of one's life, e.g. at work) after transition.
    Synonym: closeted
    go stealth; be stealth; live stealth
    • 2009 September 30, Joanne Herman, Transgender Explained for Those Who Are Not, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 15:
      Lynn is a noted computer scienƟst and distnguished professor emerita of engineering who transitoned from male to female (MTF) in the 1960s and then lived “stealth,” or closeted about her transgender status, before coming out in 2000 []
    • 2010 July 9, Jon Davies, Trash: A Queer Film Classic,, →ISBN, page 35:
      They remained radical in their gender identities and not easily categorized; Darling, for example, lived “stealth” as a woman, and Curtis and Woodlawn alternated between female and male identities in different phases of their lives, []
    • 2011 January 15, Kristen Schilt, Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality, University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 85:
      Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality Kristen Schilt. assigned: “Some of the boys, especially if they are really ... Trey, who was stealth, was accepted at work as one of the only black men in a male-dominated field.
    • 2015 January 9, Tiffany Jones, Andrea del Pozo de Bolger, Tinashe Dune, Amy Lykins, Gail Hawkes, Female-to-Male (FtM) Transgender People’s Experiences in Australia: A National Study, Springer, →ISBN, page 97:
      Some respondents felt very comfortable being transgender FtM, [] One participant who was stealth about their gender identity and still presented as female to some friends and family, []
    • 2017 March 29, David Elias Weekley, Retreating Forward: A Spiritual Practice with Transgender Persons, Wipf and Stock Publishers, →ISBN, page 13:
      Jazz great and band leader Billy Tipton is one well-known example of a transgender person who lived “stealth” (secretly) most of his life. Born Dorothy Lucille tipton, Dorothy became “Billy” as an adolescent and, following a brief []
    • 2017 May 2, Elijah C. Nealy, Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition, W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN:
      Because Derek was stealth, they did not know about his trans history. The spring of their sophomore year, the guys decided they all wanted to get an apartment off campus the next year. When Derek brought this up with me, []
    • 2017 June 1, Juno Dawson, The Gender Games: The Problem With Men and Women, From Someone Who Has Been Both, Two Roads, →ISBN:
      Trans people either lived in the wrong gender, lived 'stealth', or faced ridicule. Times are achanging; every shop assistant who serves us, every taxi driver who gives us a lift, every old person we help, every human we experience, []
    • 2017 June 13, Janet Mock, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 216:
      He could claim that he didn't know, that I had withheld my story from him throughout the relationship, the way I've heard some women have, women who lived stealth, who told their husbands that they'd had hysterectomies and lived in fear []
    • 2017, Carla A. Pfeffer, Queering Families: The Postmodern Partnerships of Cisgender Women and Transgender Men, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 155:
      [] having a trans partner who was “stealth” and the paradoxical challenges that a trans partner being recognized in accordance with his gender identity []
    • 2018 October 17, Cecilia Hardacker, Kelly Ducheny, Magda Houlberg, Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Health and Aging, Springer, →ISBN, page 231:
      Since I lived stealth, I wasn't able to continuously have my appointments but only every once in a while. The main reasons were the facial swelling, and the beard hairs had to be a certain length. The health insurance didn't want to pay []
    • 2020 June 29, Ryan J. Watson, Jaimie F. Veale, Today's Transgender Youth: Health, Well-being, and Opportunities for Resilience, Routledge, →ISBN, page 78:
      Likewise, another youth (Dan, 20 years old, transmasculine) described encountering issues at his place of employment that were explicit instances of racism or homophobia, and not of transphobia, because he was stealth at work (due to []
    • 2020 September 22, Born This Way Foundation Reporters, Lady Gaga, Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community, Feiwel & Friends, →ISBN:
      CAMERON: For the first year of my transition, I was stealth outside of the Internet, meaning I was not open about being transgender. I always felt people would be weirded out by me, because I saw so many people bash on trans people online. When people read my story, []

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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024), “stealth”, in Online Etymology Dictionary, retrieved 31 July 2018.