beneath and covered by: under a table; under a tree.
below the surface of: under water; under the skin.
at a point or position lower or further down than: He was hit just under his eye.
in the position or state of bearing, supporting, sustaining, enduring, etc.: to sink under a heavy load.
beneath the heading or within the category of: Classify the books under “Fiction” and “General.”
as designated, indicated, or represented by: to register under a new name.
below in degree, amount, etc.; less than: purchased under cost.
below in rank; of less dignity, importance, or the like: A corporal is under a sergeant.
subject to the authority, direction, or supervision of: a bureau functioning under the prime minister.
subject to the instruction or advice of: to study the violin under Heifetz.
subject to the influence, condition, force, etc., of: under these circumstances; born under the sign of Taurus.
protected, controlled, or watched by: under guard.
authorized, warranted, or attested by: under one's hand or seal.
in accordance with: under the provisions of the law.
during the rule, administration, or government of: new laws passed under President Reagan.
in the state or process of: under repair; a matter under consideration.
Nautical. powered by the means indicated: under sail; under steam.
below or beneath something: Go over the fence, not under.
beneath the surface.
in a lower place.
in a lower degree, amount, etc.: selling blouses for $25 and under.
in a subordinate position or condition.
in or into subjection or submission.
beneath or on the underside: the under threads of the embroidery.
lower in position.
lower in degree, amount, etc.
lower in rank or condition.
subject to the control, effect, etc., as of a person, drug, or force: The hypnotist had her subject under at once. The patient was under as soon as he breathed the anesthetic.
Verb phrases
go under,
to give in; succumb; yield: She tried desperately to fight off her drowsiness, but felt herself going under.
to fail in business: After 20 years on the same corner they finally went under.
under wraps. wrap ( def 14 ).

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

2. See below.
Dictionary.com Unabridged


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 ).

Middle English; Old English

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
under (ˈʌndə)
1.  directly below; on, to, or beneath the underside or base of: under one's feet
2.  less than: under forty years
3.  lower in rank than: under a corporal
4.  subject to the supervision, jurisdiction, control, or influence of
5.  subject to (conditions); in (certain circumstances)
6.  within a classification of: a book under theology
7.  known by: under an assumed name
8.  planted with: a field under corn
9.  powered by: under sail
10.  astrology during the period that the sun is in (a sign of the zodiac): born under Aries
11.  below; to a position underneath something
[Old English; related to Old Saxon, Gothic undar, Old High German untar, Old Norse undir, Latin infra]

1.  below or beneath: underarm; underground
2.  of lesser importance or lower rank: undersecretary
3.  to a lesser degree than is proper; insufficient or insufficiently: undercharge; underemployed
4.  indicating secrecy or deception: underhand

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. under, from P.Gmc. *under- (cf. O.Fris. under, Du. onder, O.H.G. untar, Ger. unter, O.N. undir, Goth. undar), from PIE *ndhero- "lower" (cf. Skt. adhah "below;" Avestan athara- "lower;" L. infernus "lower," infra "below"). Notion of "subordination" was present in O.E. Also used in O.E. as a preposition
meaning "between, among," as still in under these circumstances, etc. (though this may be an entirely separate root; see understand). Productive as a prefix in O.E. times, as in Ger. and Scand. Under the table is from 1921 in the sense of "very drunk," 1940s in sense of "illegal." To get something under (one's) belt is from 1954; to keep something under (one's) hat "secret" is from 1885; to have something under (one's) nose "in plain sight" is from 1548; to speak under (one's) breath "in a low voice" is attested from 1832. To be under (someone's) thumb "entirely controlled" is recorded from 1754.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with under, also see below (under) par; born under a lucky star; buckle under; come under; cut the ground from under; don't let the grass grow under one's feet; everything but the kitchen sink (under the sun); fall under; false colors, sail under; get under someone's skin; go under; hide one's light under a bushel; hot under the collar; keep under one's hat; knock the bottom out (props out from under); knuckle under; light a fire under; nothing new under the sun; of (under) age; out from under; plow under; pull the rug out from under; put the skids under; six feet under; snow under; sweep under the rug; water over the dam (under the bridge).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Drawers on casters conceal seldom-used items under the bed.
Under a high-powered microscope the silica shells of single-celled algae are
  revealed in all their manifold beauty.
The deep basins under the oceans are carpeted with lava that spewed from
  submarine volcanoes and solidified.
Later, go for a swim in one of the inn's two torch-lit pools under clear desert
  skies, or catch an outdoor movie.
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