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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The Jewels were then secured inside; the whole clandestine hiding spot only accessible through a trapdoor. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "The Secret Chambers That Hid the Crown Jewels During World War II," 12 Jan. 2018 Veracruz is one of Mexico’s deadliest states for Central Americans: 174 unidentified bodies, likely including some migrants, were discovered in clandestine burial sites during the month of September alone. Liliana Frankel, Teen Vogue, "A Day in the Life of the Migrant Caravan," 16 Nov. 2018 After all, clandestine affairs can only be fun for so long. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Sign's September 2018 Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Aug. 2018 Our story begins with two young women conducting a clandestine affair in the French countryside as WWI approaches—until the mother of one suddenly marries the father of the other, giving them the freedom to travel as sisters. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Our Favorite Summer Beach Reads," 5 June 2018 The new photos give insight to the movie's fantastical world of Wakanda—a clandestine, futuristic African nation ruled by T'Challa (Boseman), AKA Black Panther. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lupita Nyong'o and the Black Panther Cast Slay in Their First Magazine Cover," 12 July 2017 Changing all that is The Hive (1111 W. Lake St., 312-877-5929), a semi-clandestine cocktail lounge located a flight of stairs above its sister restaurant, Honey’s. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "Drink this: Black Manhattan at The Hive at Honey’s," 21 June 2017 Speaking in a series of Friday interviews with journalists from Asian countries that lie in close proximity to North Korea, Pompeo said that would include any possible clandestine sites unknown to those outside North Korea. Jamie Crawford, CNN, "Pompeo says North Korea nukes must all go before sanctions end," 8 June 2018 Human smugglers now charge vastly more for clandestine journeys into the United States than just a few years ago. Nicholas Kulish, The Seattle Times, "Human smuggling cat-and-mouse game plays out beyond the U.S.-Mexico border," 9 July 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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Dictionary Entries near clandestine

clam worm

clan

clancular

clandestine

clandestine evolution

clang

clanger

Statistics for clandestine

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clandestine

The first known use of clandestine was circa 1528

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More Definitions for clandestine

clandestine

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of clandestine

: done in a private place or way : done secretly

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