un·​der·​cur·​rent | \ˈən-dər-ˌkər-ənt, -ˌkə-rənt\

Definition of undercurrent 

1 : a current below the upper currents or surface

2 : a hidden opinion, feeling, or tendency often contrary to the one publicly shown

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Other Words from undercurrent

undercurrent adjective

Examples of undercurrent in a Sentence

You could be pulled under water by the dangerous undercurrents.

Recent Examples on the Web

In recent years, however, one neighborhood has proven that Denver’s creative undercurrents are starting to take hold. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "Denver’s Coolest Bars, Restaurants, and Shops Are All in This One Neighborhood," 6 Nov. 2018 Yet edgy undercurrents persist in the work of graffiti artist Shepard Fairey and conceptual artist Charles Gaines, both born here. Kelly Crow, WSJ, "America’s Art Scenes Off the Beaten Track," 15 Sep. 2018 That’s why Trump broadsides at the alliance as a whole, even if not specifically directed at the Poles, cause a distinct undercurrent of nervousness. Laura King, latimes.com, "Poland sees opportunity and peril in NATO summit and Trump-Putin meeting," 9 July 2018 As restrictions tightened on black and other nonwhite residents, Mr. Goldblatt traveled throughout the country, capturing the mingled sense of dignity and fear that was a constant undercurrent of South African life. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "David Goldblatt, penetrating photographer of South Africa under apartheid, dies at 87," 26 June 2018 Also noteworthy: Christiani Pitts, the actress playing her, is African-American, and the cast is diverse, significant given that the story has long been seen as having racially problematic undercurrents. Michael Paulson, New York Times, "Four Musicals on Three Continents: An Australian Company’s Big Bet," 5 July 2018 Trump’s willingness to upset traditional U.S. alliances and his abrupt changes of mind on key issues is creating an undercurrent of anxiety at the gathering, which would otherwise be focused on security challenges from North Korea to a rising China. Jason Koutsoukis, Bloomberg.com, "Canada Defense Minister Calls Trump Tariff Action ‘Insulting’," 1 June 2018 European stocks slipped and safe haven government bonds were in demand early on Monday as the collapse of coalition talks in Germany served as a reminder of political risk that still runs as an undercurrent in Europe. Mark Hulbert, USA TODAY, "401(k) investors: Why boring municipal bonds are exciting for investors," 17 June 2018 What gives it lasting power is its livewire undercurrent of desperation. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Review: A New Superfly Gets By on Surface Pleasures—and Great Hair," 13 June 2018

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

1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for undercurrent

The first known use of undercurrent was in 1683

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English Language Learners Definition of undercurrent

: a flow of water that moves below the surface of the ocean or a river

: a hidden feeling or tendency that is usually different from the one that is easy to see or understand


un·​der·​cur·​rent | \ˈən-dər-ˌkər-ənt \

Kids Definition of undercurrent

1 : a flow of water that moves below the surface

2 : a hidden feeling or tendency often different from the one openly shown She sensed an undercurrent of dissatisfaction.

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Comments on undercurrent

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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