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

  • I should abhor these clandestine correspondences, were they not forced upon me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Our return was clandestine for many of the members, and for me among the number.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • There, Mademoiselle, you have the reason for a clandestine union.

    The Suitors of Yvonne

    Raphael Sabatini

  • Did you not gather that this was not only a runaway match, but a clandestine one?

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • What on earth possesses him to make a clandestine match of it?


    Joseph Conrad

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