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Synonym Chooser

How is the word underhanded distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of underhanded are clandestine, covert, furtive, secret, stealthy, and surreptitious. While all these words mean "done without attracting observation," underhanded stresses fraud or deception.

an underhanded trick

Where would clandestine be a reasonable alternative to underhanded?

In some situations, the words clandestine and underhanded are roughly equivalent. However, clandestine implies secrecy usually for an evil, illicit, or unauthorized purpose and often emphasizes the fear of being discovered.

a clandestine meeting of conspirators

When is covert a more appropriate choice than underhanded?

The meanings of covert and underhanded largely overlap; however, covert stresses the fact of not being open or declared.

covert intelligence operations

When can furtive be used instead of underhanded?

Although the words furtive and underhanded have much in common, furtive implies a sly or cautious stealthiness.

lovers exchanging furtive glances

When might secret be a better fit than underhanded?

While the synonyms secret and underhanded are close in meaning, secret implies concealment on any grounds for any motive.

met at a secret location

When could stealthy be used to replace underhanded?

The words stealthy and underhanded can be used in similar contexts, but stealthy suggests taking pains to avoid being seen or heard especially in some misdoing.

the stealthy step of a burglar

When is it sensible to use surreptitious instead of underhanded?

The synonyms surreptitious and underhanded are sometimes interchangeable, but surreptitious applies to action or behavior done secretly often with skillful avoidance of detection and in violation of custom, law, or authority.

the surreptitious stockpiling of weapons

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Cite this Entry

“Underhanded.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/underhanded. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

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