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under-the-counter

[ uhn-der-thuh-koun-ter ]
/ ˈʌn dər ðəˈkaʊn tər /
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adjective

(of merchandise) sold clandestinely.
illegal; unauthorized: under-the-counter payments.

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Origin of under-the-counter

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use under-the-counter in a sentence

Idioms and Phrases with under-the-counter

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.
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