un·​der·​cov·​er | \ ˌən-dər-ˈkə-vər How to pronounce undercover (audio) \

Definition of undercover

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: acting or executed in secret specifically : employed or engaged in spying or secret investigation an undercover agent



Definition of undercover (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person engaged in undercover activity : spy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from undercover


undercover adverb

Examples of undercover in a Sentence

Adjective an undercover operation to infiltrate the terrorist organization for months she's been an undercover agent pretending to be a drug dealer Noun within the city was a well-organized fifth column, and these undercovers would make themselves known as soon as the invading forces breached the city limits
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The case against the 14 men follows a monthslong investigation using informants and undercover operatives to gather evidence. Julia Jones And Sara Sidner, CNN, "Lawyer for accused domestic terrorist says suspect was just 'playing army'," 26 Oct. 2020 More officers responded to search the area but the hunt was called off before two officers, thinking the suspect was probably on the 1700 block of 137th Avenue, decided to comb the area in an undercover cruiser. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "San Leandro man shot multiple times, critically wounded after pointing gun at officers, police say," 25 Oct. 2020 An undercover sheriff's detective assumed the girl's identity on the social media account and chatted with the man, later identified as Sean Cook, according to sheriff's officials. Mike Cruz, The Arizona Republic, "Eloy man suspected of attempting to lure teen girl for sex," 22 Oct. 2020 Groshong, who retired in August after a 27-year career, was working undercover surveillance during the protests and driving an unmarked van in downtown Portland. oregonlive, "Retired Portland cop indicted in alleged hit-and-run of vandalism suspect during protests," 22 Oct. 2020 The clash that shocked Africa’s most populous nation followed two weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations, which led to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari dissolving an undercover squad that critics have long blasted as abusive. Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, "Nigerian protesters say security forces fired on them amid growing global outrage," 21 Oct. 2020 During demonstrations following Jason Stockley’s acquittal in 2017, a Black undercover SLPD officer was thrown to the ground, beaten, and bloodied by three white SLPD officers who mistook him for a protester. Sam Adler-bell, The New Republic, "How Police Unions Bully Politicians," 20 Oct. 2020 An undercover police car in the auto theft section had been investigating a White Dodge Charger and a grey Jeep Grand Cherokee when the occupants of both vehicles began shooting — and then drove off. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police arrest four people after dodging bullets in wild standoff," 16 Oct. 2020 About Project Veritas Project Veritas has attracted skepticism for its tactics in the past, including selective editing and undercover reporting. Camille Caldera, USA TODAY, "Fact check: No proof of alleged voter fraud scheme or connection to Rep. Ilhan Omar," 16 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 2016, Kun Shan Chun, an FBI employee, pleaded guilty to operating undercover for China over the course of several years, accepting cash, using prostitutes, and living in exuberant accommodations overseas. Fox News, "China ups its spy game on US soil as it bids to control coronavirus narrative," 22 Apr. 2020 But unlike seismic shifts of the past — ingrained into the American consciousness through a single catastrophic event — the novel coronavirus crept in undercover, one mind-boggling announcement at a time. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "As the coronavirus interrupts daily life, a Louisville family grapples with a new reality," 20 Mar. 2020 This story has been corrected to show that the affidavit by FBI agent Tripp Godbee describes the actions of another agent working undercover to monitor online groups and were not the actions of Godbee. Washington Post, "Army major in Georgia jailed on federal child porn charge," 9 Dec. 2019 Erica Meier, for one, leads a watchdog group called Animal Outlook, which gets the undercover, boots-on-the-ground activists into dairy farms, slaughterhouses, egg barns, and feedlots to collect images and video footage of how animals are treated. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "Animal activism is a boys’ club. Silicon Valley could change that," 13 Feb. 2020 The show supplied a group of volunteers willing to go in undercover, and Horton was able to play a role in the selection of the final seven. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Civilians spend ’60 Days In’ Etowah County’s ‘broken’ jail for A&E show," 19 Nov. 2019 On Sunday, the actress officially joins the cast of the ABC drama as Nyla Harper, a former undercover detective turned John Nolan’s (Nathan Fillion) new training officer. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Mekia Cox talks joining The Rookie, why her new character is a 'wild card'," 16 Oct. 2019 Farmer, who lives in Franklin, was nabbed as part of a two-day undercover human trafficking operation in Rutherford County. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Human trafficking charge against Alabama basketball star Jim Farmer dismissed," 20 Nov. 2019 Thus the use of undercovers, to go in ahead and identify the staff. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "The Night the Stonewall Inn Became a Proud Shrine," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'undercover.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of undercover


1920, in the meaning defined above


1962, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about undercover

Time Traveler for undercover

Time Traveler

The first known use of undercover was in 1920

See more words from the same year

Statistics for undercover

Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undercover.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undercover. Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for undercover


How to pronounce undercover (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of undercover

: done or working in a secret way in order to catch criminals or collect information

More from Merriam-Webster on undercover

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for undercover

Nglish: Translation of undercover for Spanish Speakers

Comments on undercover

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!