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

Patrick Carney, the San Francisco architect who came up with idea, remembered sneaking with friends to the Twin Peaks summit in 1995 to hammer in the first clandestine giant triangle. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "SF Pride Weekend kicks into gear with pink triangle installation, Dyke March," 29 June 2019 Berg led the clandestine life of a James Bond-ian operative during a time of war. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Moe Berg was catcher, spy, game-changer in multiple worlds," 27 June 2019 The weather war even had its own clandestine undercover missions in search of mundane treasures like data on temperature, pressure, and wind speed. Hannah Fry, The New Yorker, "Why Weather Forecasting Keeps Getting Better," 24 June 2019 With this new chapter the duo plans a return to the institution’s past, when, for two centuries, great writers, artists and politicians dined and drank with Paris’s demi-monde in its clandestine, private dining rooms. Alice Cavanagh, WSJ, "Behind The Restoration of Paris’s Historic Lapérouse," 11 June 2019 Media outlets spread false reports that gangs were killing just as much as before, but burying their victims in clandestine cemeteries. Daniel Castro, Harper's magazine, "The Truce," 10 June 2019 Hok Men An, who heads a local law enforcement unit, says poachers use silencers on their boat motors to carry out clandestine incursions into the sanctuaries, mostly at night. Stefan Lovgren, National Geographic, "River sanctuaries help giant fish recover in Southeast Asia," 25 Apr. 2019 And, of course, North Korea can expand its clandestine activity, such as enrichment sites, which are difficult to detect without intrusive inspections. Jane Vaynman, Washington Post, "There are signs North Korea is still working on its nuclear program. Here’s why ‘denuclearization’ is so problematic.," 30 June 2018 Less prominently, Moscow has directed a clandestine campaign of vandalism and hate crimes aimed at spoiling Ukraine’s relations with its western neighbors, Ukrainian and European officials say. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "Russia’s Covert Tactics Aim to Alienate Ukraine’s Western Neighbors," 17 May 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

5 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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Comments on clandestine

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