Formerly, there was a distinct word that sounded a lot like studiously and meant to pretend not to do or notice something. It hasn't been used much in a long time, but I remember John Fowles used it and so did Al Stewart, though I can't nail down either occurrence. The word ended up an orphan with it's only use being "X avoiding their glance", until it was superseded entirely by "studiously" which makes no sense literally. I thought it was something like strudiviously but I haven't ever found anything on the web. I do recall a discussion of this, possibly by William Safire, but again, I can't locate the source online.

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    Can't help you with the word you're looking for, but I disagree that studiously "makes no sense literally". Surely a person taking pains to study the ground / their smart phone / their nails rather than meeting the other's eyes is being studious by literal definition? Jun 14, 2016 at 7:15

2 Answers 2


Here are a number of suggestions, some of which may be completely off base:

  • surreptitiously

  • assiduously

  • deliberately

  • obviously

  • successfully or unsuccessfully

  • overtly or covertly

  • painfully

  • blithely

  • indifferently

  • defiantly

  • cruelly

  • unsympathetically

  • nervously

  • haughtily

  • stealthily

  • premeditatedly

  • consciously

Had enough? I kinda like assiduously.


According to the Writers' Reverse Dictionary, you may be referring to solicitously (adv. Disposed to solicit; eager to obtain something desirable, or to avoid anything evil; concerned; anxious; careful.). Solicitous's usage has been in steady decline for over two centuries. If you want to search the site yourself, just type in your query and specify that you want the results to start with "s" and end with "ly".

Words that mean "pretend not to notice something" are secretively, solicitously, sally, sawfly, sly, supply, silly, suggestively, slowly, secondly, spindly, subsequently, successively, strangely, and scorpion fly. - Words that mean "pretend not to notice something" - Writers' Reverse Dictionary

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