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

Yana Paskova for The New York Times Michael Seidenberg, whose clandestine bookshop and literary salon on the Upper East Side was much loved by bibliophiles, literati and inveterate browsers, died on July 8 in a hospital in Danbury, Conn. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Michael Seidenberg, Who Ran a (Sort of) Secret Bookstore, Dies at 64," 15 July 2019 Actions by deputies who are members of the clandestine groups have cost county taxpayers millions in lawsuits over the last several decades. Maya Lau, latimes.com, "Deputy gangs have survived decades of lawsuits and probes. Can the FBI stop them?," 14 July 2019 But Whitehead reveals the clandestine atrocities of Nickel Academy with just enough restraint to keep us in a state of wincing dread. Ron Charles, chicagotribune.com, "‘The Nickel Boys’: Colson Whitehead considers harsh reality of American experiment in follow-up to ‘The Underground Railroad’," 11 July 2019 But Whitehead reveals the clandestine atrocities of Nickel Academy with just enough restraint to keep us in a state of wincing dread. Ron Charles, Dallas News, "In Colson Whitehead's 'The Nickel Boys,' an idealistic black teen learns a harsh reality," 9 July 2019 Inside were nickel-cadmium batteries and ten-metre antennae—components of a clandestine weather station. The Economist, "How to predict the weather," 6 July 2019 In this drama, Sarah (Sivane Kretchner), an Israeli café owner living in West Jerusalem, has a clandestine relationship with Saleem (Adeeb Safadi), her Palestinian bread vendor, who lives in East Jerusalem. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "Film about affair between Israeli and Palestinian to open in South Florida," 3 July 2019 The fold is the Townsend Agency, a clandestine organization that Bosley (also played by Banks) says exists to protect people and dispatch of problems that traditional law enforcement cannot. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Kristen Stewart hurts a lot of men in the first Charlie’s Angels trailer," 27 June 2019 This shoebox-sized mini satellite launched in 2015, hitching a ride on an Atlas V rocket and flying to orbit alongside the Air Force’s clandestine X-37B space plane. Amy Thompson, Smithsonian, "LightSail 2 Launches to Space to Soar on the Power of Sunshine," 25 June 2019

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

19 Jul 2019

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

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

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