Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[uhn-der-wurld] /ˈʌn dərˌwɜrld/
the criminal element of human society.
the imagined abode of departed souls or spirits; Hades.
a region below the surface, as of the earth or a body of water.
the opposite side of the earth; the antipodes.
Archaic. the earth.
Origin of underworld
First recorded in 1600-10; under- + world Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for underworld
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some day he must face death, and stand before the Laws of the underworld.

    Parallel Paths Thomas William Rolleston
  • Stories of the underworld are among the most difficult to write.

    When Winter Comes to Main Street Grant Martin Overton
  • The surface of the earth is ruled by a mighty being whose sway extends to the underworld and over death, fire, and the fields.

    The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi Hattie Greene Lockett
  • No wonder that it was both feared and hated by the citizens of the underworld of crime.

    The Doomsman Van Tassel Sutphen
  • She sat in a hall in the underworld to hear the confessions of the dead, the door of which was guarded by Anubis.

British Dictionary definitions for underworld


  1. criminals and their associates considered collectively
  2. (as modifier): underworld connections
the regions below the earth's surface regarded as the abode of the dead; Hades
adjectives chthonian chthonic
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 underworld

c.1600, "the lower world, Hades," also "the earth," as distinguished from heaven. Cf. German unterwelt, Dutch onderwereld, Danish underverden. Meaning "lower level of society" is first recorded 1890; "criminals and organized crime collectively" is attested from 1900.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for underworld

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for underworld

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for underworld