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

Some locals whisper that clandestine forces are whipping up the violence in South Africa for political ends. The Economist, "Xenophobic violence flares in South Africa," 9 Sep. 2019 The book tells the story of a feckless young heir whose life is changed by the posthumous example of a brain surgeon named Wayne Hudson who had helped countless people with anonymous gifts and clandestine acts of charity. Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times, "This secret donor has given USC $400 million," 5 Sep. 2019 Total Mutual Striptease’ The first public revelation about a clandestine uranium-enrichment program in Iran came in the summer of 2002, as America was preparing for war with Iraq. New York Times, "The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran," 4 Sep. 2019 In Santa Cruz, a clandestine food bank draws hundreds of farmworkers who are fearful of immigration enforcement and turning to an underground network. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Film festivals, the L.A. County Fair and more in the week ahead," 26 Aug. 2019 The Russian conspiracy went on largely in the open, with most of the clandestine bits hidden under a diaphanous cover. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Are Spies More Trouble Than They’re Worth?," 26 Aug. 2019 Compared to Dickinson and Lister’s clandestine relationships, Sackville-West and Woolf’s affair was no secret to anyone — including their husbands. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Hear Virginia Wolf & Vita Sackville West's Love Story In Their Own Words," 24 Aug. 2019 The traitor can of course cause all kinds of clandestine havoc here. Aaron Zimmerman, Ars Technica, "The hottest new board games from Gen Con 2019," 10 Aug. 2019 Leone was the editor of a clandestine paper and was never home. Abhrajyoti Chakraborty, The New Republic, "Natalia Ginzburg’s Radical Clarity," 5 Aug. 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

13 Sep 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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