[ uhn-der-thuh-koun-ter ]
See synonyms for under-the-counter on Thesaurus.com
  1. (of merchandise) sold clandestinely.

  2. illegal; unauthorized: under-the-counter payments.

Origin of under-the-counter

First recorded in 1945–50

Words Nearby under-the-counter

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use under-the-counter in a sentence

Other Idioms and Phrases with under-the-counter


Secretly, surreptitiously, as in I'm sure they're selling liquor to minors under the counter. This expression most often alludes to an illegal transaction, the counter being the flat-surfaced furnishing or table over which legal business is conducted. It was first recorded in 1926. Also see under the table.

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