Origin of underground

First recorded in 1565–75; under- + ground1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for underground

British Dictionary definitions for underground


adjective (ˈʌndəˌɡraʊnd)

occurring, situated, or used below ground levelan underground tunnel; an underground explosion
secret; hiddenunderground activities

adverb (ˌʌndəˈɡraʊnd)

going below ground levelthe tunnel led underground
into hiding or secrecythe group was driven underground

noun (ˈʌndəˌɡraʊnd)

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 underground



1570s, "below the surface," from under + ground (n.). As an adjective, attested from c.1600; figurative sense of "hidden, secret" is attested from 1630s; adjectival meaning "subculture" is from 1953, from World War II application to resistance movements against German occupation, on analogy of the dominant culture and Nazis. Noun sense of "underground railway" is from 1887 (shortened from phrase underground railway, itself attested from 1834).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper