characterized by, done in, or executed with secrecy or concealment, especially for purposes of subversion or deception; private or surreptitious: Their clandestine meetings went undiscovered for two years.

Origin of clandestine

1560–70; < Latin clandestīnus, equivalent to *clande, *clamde, variant of clam secretly (with -de adv. particle) + -stīnus, probably after intestīnus internal; see intestine
Related formsclan·des·tine·ly, adverbclan·des·tine·ness, clan·des·tin·i·ty, nounun·clan·des·tine·ly, adverb

Synonyms for clandestine Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clandestine

Contemporary Examples of clandestine

Historical Examples of clandestine

  • At the top of a knoll in a clandestine group of trees they found "Viewcrest Inn."

  • To forget his treachery, he enters into a clandestine relationship with an actress of the town.

  • There might have been, but had not been, a clandestine marriage.

    Lady Anna

    Anthony Trollope

  • And then Rachel told all the story of her clandestine engagement, as the reader already knows it, without any reservations.

  • Yes, but he does not know that Captain Butler has presumed—has dared to press a clandestine suit with you!

    The Reckoning

    Robert W. Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for clandestine



secret and concealed, often for illicit reasons; furtive
Derived Formsclandestinely, adverbclandestineness, noun

Word Origin for clandestine

C16: from Latin clandestīnus, from clam secretly; related to Latin celāre to hide
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

Word Origin and History for clandestine

1560s, from Latin clandestinus "secret, hidden," from clam "secretly," from adverbial derivative of base of celare "to hide" (see cell), perhaps on model of intestinus "internal." Related: Clandestinely. As a noun form, there is awkward clandestinity (clandestineness apparently being a dictionary word).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper