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

Contemporary Examples of underground

Historical Examples of underground

  • A rude ladder was the usual mode of entrance into these underground dwellings.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • The five lowest levels were underground and all were labelled "Mineral Industries."

  • There, in his underground realm, she reigns all the cold winter months.

    Classic Myths

    Mary Catherine Judd

  • Life, life, everywhere, and seemingly this underground world was endless.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • The lanes of this underground village were still fast asleep.

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)

a space or region below ground level
  1. a movement dedicated to overthrowing a government or occupation forces, as in the European countries occupied by the German army in World War II
  2. (as modifier)an underground group
the underground an electric passenger railway operated in underground tunnelsUS and Canadian equivalent: subway
(usually preceded by the)
  1. any avant-garde, experimental, or subversive movement in popular art, films, music, etc
  2. (as modifier)the underground press; underground music
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