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

Following the premiere, guests including Helena Christensen and Anna Sui took a short stroll to the nearby Back Room, a clandestine watering hole, hidden down a staircase and through an alleyway, that once served as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Zachary Weiss, Vogue, "Chloë Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert Spook Moviegoers at the Premiere of Greta," 20 Feb. 2019 At the center of economic ties is Malaysia Korea Partners, or MKP, a company that U.N. monitors say is part of a joint venture of North Korean entities directed by the intelligence agency responsible for clandestine operations. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Never Take Their Photos: Tracking the Commandos, North Korea’s Secret Export," 9 Dec. 2018 Those without proper documentation to enter Colombia use clandestine trails and wade across a river that marks the border. Manuel Rueda, The Seattle Times, "AP Explains: Cucuta, Colombia — The gateway into Venezuela," 4 Feb. 2019 The individual, identified as Park Jin Hyok, participated in the Sony Pictures attack under orders from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's clandestine military intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the indictment alleges. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "US indicts North Korean agent for WannaCry, Sony attacks [Updated]," 6 Sep. 2018 While refrigeration can slow the decomposition of bodies, many of the corpses had been recovered from clandestine graves in the state and are already rotted, officials said. Fox News, "Residents complain about smell after 157 unidentified bodies discovered in morgue trailer in Mexico," 18 Sep. 2018 The White House on Thursday released this photo of Mike Pompeo's clandestine Easter weekend meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Jennifer Hansler, CNN, "The week in politics," 28 Apr. 2018 Cops believe that the business, while legal, caters to marijuana traffickers growing weed in clandestine labs inside homes. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Cops seized $22 million cash from his Miami home, but he won't lose it all | Miami Herald," 7 Feb. 2018 The showdown came amid the long-simmering conflict between the two countries, in which Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and supported separatists in Ukraine’s east with clandestine dispatches of troops and weapons. Yuras Karmanau, The Seattle Times, "Putin derides Ukraine’s martial law as political trick," 28 Nov. 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

1 Mar 2019

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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

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

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