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Is there a word for practicing in secret to surprise or impress?

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2 Answers 2

There are a great number of words for operating secretly (clandestinely, covertly, furtively, surreptitiously, stealthily, unobserved), but none in common usage that implies a happy revelation at the end of the day. Let's face it -- skulduggery is skulduggery, and the actor is working in the hope of being undiscovered while performing the actions in question, and will act in the same odd ways that someone who was up to no good would. The language used to describe it shouldn't be too very different until one gets to the twist.

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Counter examples: surprise parties; new cars in the driveway on Christmas morning; damnfool, highly-orchestrated public, proposals of marriage; and so on. Obviously this kind of thing is not common, but it happens. –  dmckee Feb 18 '11 at 21:07
    
It happens, yes, but there's no one word or pat phrase for the planning and preparation (or, in this case, rehearsal) phase of the project, other than to modify the word practice or rehearsal with one of the standard secrecy modifiers -- the intent, malevolent or benevolent, needs to be added separately. –  bye Feb 19 '11 at 9:45

"Plotting" said with a friendly smile is the only thing that comes to mind. "Mischief" might be similarly spun as in "up to mischief".

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