[suhb-tuh-rey-nee-uh n]

adjective Also sub·ter·ra·ne·ous.

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 formssub·ter·ra·ne·an·ly, sub·ter·ra·ne·ous·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subterranean

Contemporary Examples of subterranean

Historical Examples of subterranean

  • We are like men in a subterranean cave, so chained that they can look only forward to the entrance.


    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.

  • Purdy did not hit for the subterranean hang-out of the gang.

    Prairie Flowers

    James B. Hendryx

British Dictionary definitions for subterranean



Also: subterraneous, subterrestrial situated, living, or operating below the surface of the earth
existing or operating in concealment
Derived Formssubterraneanly or subterraneously, adverb

Word Origin for subterranean

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

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