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Idioms about under

    under wraps. wrap (def. 14).

Origin of under

before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with Dutch onder,German unter,Old Norse undir,Latin inferus located below

synonym study for under

2. See below.

Other definitions for under (2 of 2)


a prefixal use of under, as to indicate place or situation below or beneath (underbrush; undertow); lower in grade or dignity (undersheriff; understudy); of lesser degree, extent, or amount (undersized); or insufficiency (underfeed).

Origin of under-

Middle English; Old English
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does under- mean?

Under- is a prefix meaning “under” and is used in a variety of senses, including “below or beneath,” “inferior,” or “lesser.” It is often used in a variety of everyday terms.

Under- ultimately comes from Old English under, of the same meaning. The Greek translation of under is hypó, the source of the prefix hypo, and the Latin translation is sub, the source of the prefix sub. These prefixes can be found in hypoallergenic, hypothermia, subterranean, and subway. To learn more, check out our entries for all four words.

Examples of under-

An example of a word you may have encountered that features under– is
underdog, “a person who is expected to lose in a contest or conflict.”

We know under– means “under,” and the dog portion of the word clearly means “dog.” The term comes from dogfighting and refers to a dog who lost a fight. The term came to be used figuratively to refer to anyone in a competition. Underdog literally means “lesser dog.”

What are some words that use the combining form under-?

What are some other forms that under– may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

Given the meaning of under-, what does undercut literally mean?

How to use under in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for under (1 of 2)

/ (ˈʌndə) /

below; to a position underneath something

Word Origin for under

Old English; related to Old Saxon, Gothic undar, Old High German untar, Old Norse undir, Latin infra

British Dictionary definitions for under (2 of 2)


below or beneathunderarm; underground
of lesser importance or lower rankundersecretary
to a lesser degree than is proper; insufficient or insufficientlyundercharge; underemployed
indicating secrecy or deceptionunderhand
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with under


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.