sub·ter·ra·nean | \ ˌsəb-tə-ˈrā-nē-ən , -nyən \
variants: or less commonly subterraneous \ˌsəb-tə-ˈrā-nē-əs, -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

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Other words from subterranean

subterraneanly or less commonly subterraneously adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for subterranean


belowground, subsurface, underground


aboveground, surface

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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 sale is further complicated because the building is connected to critical subterranean Metro infrastructure. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "Metro seeks buyer for downtown D.C. headquarters," 12 July 2018 The Indiana Cave Trail encourages visitors to hit all four of these experiences from the mile-long-plus subterranean boat ride in Bluespring Cavern to the stunning stalcites and stalagmites of Marengo Cave. Sarah Bahr, Indianapolis Star, "Ultimate Indiana bucket list: 50+ things to do in Indianapolis and around the state," 11 July 2018 To remove iron from the subterranean realms was to tempt the spirit world, so the first miners conducted rituals to placate the higher powers before digging out the ore, according to the 1956 book The Forge and the Crucible. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 Potomac Theater Project arrives back in New York for its latest subterranean season. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "10 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 5 July 2018 Dubbed Hacienda de la Paz, the home has a spa, a lap pool and a tennis court whose walls are decorated with trompe l’oeil paintings — all of it indoors and subterranean., "Today: The Travel Ban and the Echoes of a 1944 Case," 27 June 2018 How does one guide a dozen children through miles of subterranean passageways, including lengthy underwater channels, largely in the dark, when many of them can’t swim? John Ismay, New York Times, "Why the Thailand Cave Rescue Was So Difficult: A Diver Explains," 10 July 2018 The drama illustrates the potential complexities of cave rescue, and stirs memories of subterranean calamities closer to home. John Keilman,, "As Thailand cave crisis continues, Midwestern cavers reflect on the risks of going subterranean," 6 July 2018 Black Lake,’ which has brilliant string arrangements and these subterranean drums. Shaun Brady,, "This University of the Arts grad has a pentagram tattooed on his face. He's also one of the most inventive singers working today," 25 June 2018

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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Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for subterranean

The first known use of subterranean was in 1603

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More Definitions for subterranean



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 , -nyən \

Kids Definition of subterranean

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

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Comments on subterranean

What made you want to look up subterranean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

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