clandestine

adjective
clan·​des·​tine | \ klan-ˈde-stən How to pronounce clandestine (audio) also -ˌstīn or -ˌstēn or ˈklan-də- \

Definition of clandestine

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

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Other Words from clandestine

clandestinely adverb
clandestineness noun
clandestinity \ ˌklan-​də-​ˈsti-​nə-​tē How to pronounce clandestinity (audio) , -​de-​ˈsti-​ \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Western experts put the North’s total number of nuclear sites — including its main atomic center at Yongbyon, its mountain testing complex and a number of clandestine labs and facilities — at 40 to 100, according to the RAND report. David E. Sanger And William J. Broad, New York Times, "Verifying the End of a Nuclear North Korea ‘Could Make Iran Look Easy’," 6 May 2018 Last October, a clandestine burial site containing dozens of bodies was discovered in Sonora near the resort town of Puerto Peñasco, located south of the Arizona border. Fox News, "Mexico reports over 61,000 people missing, discovery of 873 burial pits amid raging drug war," 8 Jan. 2020 Encinas said investigators have so far found about 200 clandestine burial sites and recovered 184 bodies, none of them the students. BostonGlobe.com, "Most read on BostonGlobe.com," 27 Sep. 2019 Encinas said investigators have so far found about 200 clandestine burial sites and recovered 184 bodies, none of them the students. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mexico finds rumors, bodies, but not 43 missing students," 26 Sep. 2019 Though some clandestine labs that make fentanyl from scratch have popped up sporadically in Mexico, cartels are still very much reliant upon Chinese companies to get the precursor drugs. Jim Mustian And Jake Bleiberg, Houston Chronicle, "‘Cartels are scrambling’: Virus snarls global drug trade," 20 Apr. 2020 Driving the getaway vehicle that day was a member of a clandestine group called Free Joseon, people familiar with the operation say. Bradley Hope, WSJ, "Inside the Secretive Group Trying to Bring Down North Korea’s Regime," 4 Apr. 2020 Their escape was planned by a clandestine group called Free Joseon, the Wall Street Journal reported. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "North Korea’s top diplomat in Italy defected with the help of California-based anti-regime activists," 3 Apr. 2020 At least 60 people were also killed by death squads set up by members of Spain’s security forces and clandestine far-right groups. Washington Post, "Basque survivors warn against forgetting ETA’s violence," 5 May 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for clandestine

Time Traveler

The first known use of clandestine was circa 1528

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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clandestine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clandestine. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for clandestine

clandestine

adjective
How to pronounce clandestine (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clandestine

formal : done in a private place or way : done secretly

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