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 subterraneous (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

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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 Step inside the entrance to what still is called Moscone South and directly in front of you are six escalators and two broad staircases that lead to the subterranean exhibit hall and are accented by gray walls on either side. John King,, "As Dreamforce crowd arrives, SF’s expanded Moscone Center gets to show itself off," 19 Nov. 2019 Its trio of towers are now being built on top of a subterranean parking structure with room for more than 400 cars. Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, "Rockies co-owner Monfort’s McGregor Square is on trend — and at the center of a trend — in LoDo," 17 Nov. 2019 The Boring Company, based in Hawthorne, California, has proposed similar subterranean projects in Los Angeles, Chicago and between Washington and Baltimore, Maryland. Dennis Romero, NBC News, "In Las Vegas, Elon Musk's tunneling company digs in," 16 Nov. 2019 Then there is groundwater in subterranean gravel and rock aquifers. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Lessons seen in ill-fated water-rail plan," 9 Nov. 2019 An entry way of white exposed brick and pots and pots of leafy plants eventually leads to a subterranean spa with modish matte tiles and a aqua mural by artist Amit Greenberg. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Williamsburg’s Bathhouse: The Chic New Wellness Destination That Also Serves Wine," 8 Nov. 2019 Unlike regular subterranean tree roots, the evergreen trees have evolved to live in the waterlogged conditions of the swamps and feature two types of bizarre-looking roots: knee roots and stilt roots. Neha Jain, Quartz India, "The ancient swamps along India’s western coast must be saved at all costs," 6 Nov. 2019 This name doesn’t kid: inside are two small trailers bookending each end of the subterranean room, one from the ’60s, a larger one from the ’70s , which can be reserved for large parties. Christopher Smith, Orange County Register, "Getting grand at San Diego’s U.S. Grant," 31 Oct. 2019 This subterranean city of the dead, inaugurated on October 30th, lies beneath Har HaMenuchot, Jerusalem’s largest cemetery, which is nearly full. The Economist, "How Jerusalem is dealing with a grave shortage," 7 Nov. 2019

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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Statistics for subterranean

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Subterranean.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for subterranean


How to pronounce subterranean (audio)

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

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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).


to constrict the range or activity of

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