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 For some women, especially those who were too poor, too young or otherwise unable to find a source of safe care, the clandestine procedure resulted in serious injury or even death. Rachel Benson Gold, Scientific American, "Lessons from before Abortion Was Legal," 13 Oct. 2020 Ingo Hasselbach had been a clandestine neo-Nazi in communist East Berlin, but the fall of the Berlin Wall brought him out of the shadows. Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, "Germany’s Far Right Reunified, Too, Making It Much Stronger," 3 Oct. 2020 Many private investigators come from the clandestine intelligence services. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, "Why Private Eyes Are Everywhere Now," 28 Sep. 2020 Meanwhile, a host of Gulf monarchies cultivated de facto ties with the Israelis, establishing various areas of clandestine cooperation. Washington Post, "The Arab tide turns against the Palestinians," 14 Sep. 2020 North Korea has also lashed out at the South and North Korean defectors living there for propaganda leaflets and balloons that were parachuted into the clandestine communist country. NBC News, "South Korea suggests unprecedented joint probe with North Korea into official's death," 26 Sep. 2020 For decades, the Cubby Hole sat in clandestine solitude on Federal Highway, a squat unremarkable one-story building with two windows facing Parker Playhouse, both boarded up and painted black. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "In Fort Lauderdale, looking back at Lester’s Bar and forward to Roxanne’s," 18 Sep. 2020 The Justice Department determined that there had been no underlying basis to investigate Flynn (i.e., there was insufficient predicate to investigate him as a criminal suspect or as a clandestine agent of Russia). Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "D.C. Circuit Rules against Michael Flynn, Sending Case Back to Judge Sullivan," 1 Sep. 2020 Some workers have arranged clandestine meetings with colleagues in supermarkets. Washington Post, "Australia’s coronavirus ‘dictator’ enforces a drastic lockdown. He’s still popular.," 15 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for clandestine

Time Traveler

The first known use of clandestine was circa 1528

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Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clandestine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clandestine. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for clandestine

clandestine

adjective
How to pronounce clandestine (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clandestine

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

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