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[suhb-tuh-rey-nee-uh n] /ˌsʌb təˈreɪ ni ən/
adjective, Also, subterraneous
existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground.
existing or operating out of sight or secretly; hidden or secret.
a person or thing that is subterranean.
a subterrane.
Origin of subterranean
1595-1605; < Latin subterrāne(us) (see subterrane) + -an
Related forms
subterraneanly, subterraneously, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for subterranean
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We are like men in a subterranean cave, so chained that they can look only forward to the entrance.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • The subterranean creep throws a fit and belts me with four fists.

    Operation Earthworm Joe Archibald
  • Only in places was the subterranean river shallow and easy to wade.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet
  • Humboldt says that they were cast up from subterranean sources.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • Purdy did not hit for the subterranean hang-out of the gang.

    Prairie Flowers

    James B. Hendryx
  • There was always a trickle of information into headquarters by subterranean ways.

    The Grell Mystery Frank Froest
British Dictionary definitions for subterranean


Also subterraneous, subterrestrial. situated, living, or operating below the surface of the earth
existing or operating in concealment
Derived Forms
subterraneanly, subterraneously, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin subterrāneus, from sub- + terra earth
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
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Word Origin and History for subterranean

c.1600, from Latin subterraneus "underground," from sub "under" (see sub-) + terra "earth" (see terrain).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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