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

His relative youth and background as a former clandestine officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency led some officials to question his qualifications for the job. Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, "A former Trump official pushed out of White House is hired at Justice Department," 11 Apr. 2018 But most persist, watched warily by officials but not exactly clandestine. The Economist, "As China tightens rules on religion, unregistered churches wince," 15 Mar. 2018 The renovation includes a new (and equally clandestine) entrance as well as the addition of a jazz lounge. Kari Costas, ELLE Decor, "Attention, Disney Fans: Disneyland Has A Member's Only Club," 17 Mar. 2016 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

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

11 Oct 2018

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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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