clandestine

adjective
clan·des·tine | \ klan-ˈdes-tən also -ˌtīn or -ˌtēn or ˈklan-dəs- \

Definition of clandestine 

: marked by, held in, or conducted with secrecy : surreptitious a clandestine love affair

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from clandestine

clandestinely adverb
clandestineness noun
clandestinity \ˌklan-də-ˈsti-nə-tē, -des-ˈti- \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clandestine

secret, covert, stealthy, furtive, clandestine, surreptitious, underhanded mean done without attracting observation. secret implies concealment on any grounds for any motive. met at a secret location covert stresses the fact of not being open or declared. covert intelligence operations stealthy suggests taking pains to avoid being seen or heard especially in some misdoing. the stealthy step of a burglar furtive implies a sly or cautious stealthiness. lovers exchanging furtive glances clandestine implies secrecy usually for an evil, illicit, or unauthorized purpose and often emphasizes the fear of being discovered. a clandestine meeting of conspirators surreptitious applies to action or behavior done secretly often with skillful avoidance of detection and in violation of custom, law, or authority. the surreptitious stockpiling of weapons underhanded stresses fraud or deception. an underhanded trick

Did You Know?

In 1658, the English poet John Milton wrote of "clandestine Hostility cover'd over with the name of Peace." Three and a half centuries later we use clandestine in much the same way. The word is often used as a synonym of secret and covert, and it is commonly applied to actions that involve secrecy maintained for an evil, illicit, or unauthorized purpose. It comes to us by way of Middle French from Latin clandestinus, which is itself from clam, meaning "secretly."

Examples of clandestine in a Sentence

The clandestine meetings, the passing back and forth of messages between Lodge and the plotters, the coaxing along of the generals, all had the emotional lift of a strong amphetamine. —Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1988 The CIA's great innovation has been to concentrate in peacetime on 'covert action'—that is, the use of clandestine means to challenge policies and regimes in other countries. —Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Cycles of American History, 1986 And Pym was in London for a conference—no, he wasn't, he was attending a three-day course on the latest methods of clandestine communication in a beastly little training house off Smith Square. —John le Carré, A Perfect Spy, 1986 I took a clandestine peek at the price tag on the diamond necklace.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

These facilities are hard to detect and easy to reconfigure, so without regular inspections and monitoring, the possibility of a clandestine nuclear weapons program remains. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Uranium enrichment will be a key point in talks with North Korea. Here’s what it is.," 11 June 2018 The framework collapsed in 2002 amid U.S. suspicions that North Korea had a clandestine uranium enrichment program. Matthew Pennington, The Seattle Times, "Tough talk: US envoys on how to negotiate with North Korea," 9 June 2018 The framework collapsed in 2002 amid U.S. suspicions that North Korea had a clandestine uranium enrichment program. Washington Post, "Tough talk: US envoys on how to negotiate with North Korea," 9 June 2018 The nuclear confrontation deepened in 2002, with the Bush administration accusing North Korea of running a clandestine uranium enrichment program in breach of a 1994 disarmament deal. Hyung-jin Kim, USA TODAY, "Top North Korean official may be headed to the U.S. to discuss summit between Kim Jong Un, Trump," 29 May 2018 In the years that followed, the agency confronted Iran repeatedly over what U.S. officials described as a clandestine nuclear-weapons research program that Iran apparently ended in 2003. Author: Joby Warrick, Anchorage Daily News, "Muzzled watchdog: How killing the nuclear deal could make it easier for Iran to pursue the bomb in secret," 8 May 2018 Barbara gifted her new husband (who was conducting a clandestine affair with actress Zsa Zsa Gabor) with a check for $1 million. Stephanie Mansfield, Town & Country, "Inside the World's Richest Rivalry: Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton," 26 Apr. 2017 Requests for records of U.S. citizens must be based on an investigation being conducted to protect against terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities and the probe cannot be conducted solely on activities protected by the First Amendment. CBS News, "NSA deletion of more than 685 million call records raises questions," 30 June 2018 Most of it is, and was, made imprecisely by rogue chemists in clandestine labs overseas, often in China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "Fentanyl deaths up 1,000% since 2013, so much so that even heroin's supply is dwarfed," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clandestine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of clandestine

circa 1528, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for clandestine

Middle French or Latin; Middle French clandestin, from Latin clandestinus, from clam secretly; akin to Latin celare to hide — more at hell

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clandestine

Share clandestine

Listen to Our Podcast about clandestine

Dictionary Entries near clandestine

clam worm

clan

clancular

clandestine

clandestine evolution

clang

clanger

Statistics for clandestine

Last Updated

30 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clandestine

The first known use of clandestine was circa 1528

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for clandestine

clandestine

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of clandestine

: done in a private place or way : done secretly

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on clandestine

What made you want to look up clandestine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!