Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know

sub rosa

[suhb roh-zuh] /sʌb ˈroʊ zə/
confidentially; secretly; privately.
Origin of sub rosa
First recorded in 1920-25, sub rosa is from the Latin word sub rosā literally, under the rose, from the ancient use of the rose at meetings as a symbol of the sworn confidence of the participants Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for sub rosa
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For three months he had been engaged, sub rosa, to a penniless cousin.

    The Testing of Diana Mallory Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Believe me, they've done a lot of searching; most of it sub rosa.

    This Crowded Earth Robert Bloch
  • It was easily contrived to divert, sub rosa, large State receipts to supply the remaining financial needs.

  • Business is transacted on Sabbath eve; but this, of course, sub rosa.

    Against the Current Edward A. Steiner
  • The director got at the facts, and gave them to his wife, sub rosa: "He belongs to Irvine's church—and Irvine is an anarchist."

    From the Bottom Up Alexander Irvine
  • Mr. Roosevelt (this was said sub rosa) had not been too Radical, but too frank.

    Ten Years Near the German Frontier Maurice Francis Egan
  • There was the revelation of some that had existed before, sub rosa.

    Betty Lee, Sophomore David Goodger (
  • "Of course Mr. Harley understands that all this is sub rosa," said Mr. Goodnight, looking severely at the correspondent.

    The Candidate Joseph Alexander Altsheler
  • And Foster Leverett, who managed some of her business, said sub rosa that she was not spending all her income.

    A Little Girl in Old Boston Amanda Millie Douglas
British Dictionary definitions for sub rosa

sub rosa

in secret
Word Origin
Latin, literally: under the rose; from the rose that, in ancient times, was hung over the council table, as a token of secrecy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for sub rosa

"privately, secretly," Latin, literally "under the rose," which was regarded as a symbol of secrecy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for sub rosa

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for sub

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for sub rosa