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 subterranean (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 There are no coincidences in Sebald’s work—only connections in a subterranean network of meaning. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, 19 Aug. 2021 Financial difficulties at the museum are baked into its architecture, which weaves a subterranean network of galleries through about 110,000 square feet beneath the memorial’s two large pools of water. New York Times, 12 July 2021 Hutch and Yulian both have a subterranean network of allies at their disposal. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2021 Sandworm, after the giant subterranean monsters that roam the deserts of Arrakis. Andy Greenberg, Wired, 28 Sep. 2021 According to their estimates, just 150 to 200 individuals remained in the one subterranean cave. Emily V. Driscoll, Scientific American, 22 Sep. 2021 Less clear is what happened to the denizens of those cities' subterranean depths: the rats. Amanda Schupak, CNN, 19 Sep. 2021 On the other is a subterranean storm sewer — Culiacan built hundreds of kilometers of them to deal with torrential rains — which is where the bathroom tunnel connected to make Guzmán’s escape possible. AndrÉs Villarreal, Chron, 14 Sep. 2021 Dakota’s is probably best known for its subterranean patio, which peeks out onto a sliver of downtown Dallas that’s often busy during rush hour. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 13 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near subterranean



subterranean caterpillar

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subterranean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on subterranean

Nglish: Translation of subterranean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subterranean for Arabic Speakers


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