sub·​ter·​ra·​nean | \ ˌsəb-tə-ˈrā-nē-ən How to pronounce subterranean (audio) , -nyən \
variants: or less commonly subterraneous \ ˌsəb-​tə-​ˈrā-​nē-​əs How to pronounce subterranean (audio) , -​nyəs \

Definition of subterranean

1 : being, lying, or operating under the surface of the earth
2 : existing or working in secret : hidden a subterranean network of criminals

Other Words from subterranean

subterraneanly or less commonly subterraneously adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for subterranean



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Go Underground With Subterranean

A tunnel is a subterranean road or pathway, and a subway is a subterranean railway. The subterranean vaults at Fort Knox hold billions of dollars of gold reserves. Subterranean reservoirs called aquifers are tapped for water; in places where the pressure on the subterranean water is great enough, a hole drilled in the ground will bring it bubbling to the surface.

Examples of subterranean in a Sentence

a subterranean bunker that supposedly could withstand even an atomic blast
Recent Examples on the Web The Rams’ ledger for the plus-minus statistic that measures overall game impact was subterranean. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Jan. 2022 In addition, there’s a subterranean level with meeting spaces that boast a towering vault door and state-of-the-art security. Los Angeles Times, 4 Jan. 2022 At levels that deep, creatures can’t rely on normal eyesight to see in the dark of the deep subterranean world. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 18 Dec. 2021 The show begins down, down in the vast subterranean space of the Sainsbury Gallery, inside a room filled with the sounds of oars hitting the water. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, 11 July 2021 It’s a must to have a drink at the oh-so-lush subterranean bar, Silver Lyan. Juyoung Seo, Forbes, 6 July 2021 From their early days, comic books taught kids about a Manichaean universe in which subterranean, irrational, and irredeemably evil forces continually threatened society’s superficial order. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, 16 Dec. 2021 The sprawling subterranean space dazzled diners arriving or leaving on the Wolverine, the 20th Century Limited and hundreds of other trains that chugged in and out of Grand Central every day. Kevin Doyle, WSJ, 8 Nov. 2021 These subterranean springs stretching over an area of more than 4,600 square miles are believed to contain some of the richest concentrations of lithium anywhere on Earth. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 11 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subterranean.' 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 subterranean

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subterranean

Latin subterraneus, from sub- + terra earth — more at thirst

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Time Traveler for subterranean

Time Traveler

The first known use of subterranean was in 1603

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Dictionary Entries Near subterranean



subterranean caterpillar

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subterranean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of subterranean

: located or living under the surface of the ground
: existing or working in secret


sub·​ter·​ra·​nean | \ ˌsəb-tə-ˈrā-nē-ən How to pronounce subterranean (audio) , -nyən \

Kids Definition of subterranean

: being, lying, or operating under the surface of the earth a subterranean lake

More from Merriam-Webster on subterranean

Nglish: Translation of subterranean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subterranean for Arabic Speakers


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