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[klan-des-tin] /klænˈdɛs tɪn/
characterized by, done in, or executed with secrecy or concealment, especially for purposes of subversion or deception; private or surreptitious:
Their clandestine meetings went undiscovered for two years.
Origin of clandestine
1560-70; < Latin clandestīnus, equivalent to *clande, *clamde, variant of clam secretly (with -de adv. particle) + -stīnus, probably after intestīnus internal; see intestine
Related forms
clandestinely, adverb
clandestineness, clandestinity, noun
unclandestinely, adverb
hidden, underhand, confidential, illicit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for clandestine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It had been the study of Belle's life to get what she wished in a clandestine way.

  • I should abhor these clandestine correspondences, were they not forced upon me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Now that Mr. Bagley was no longer there to spy upon their actions these clandestine interviews had been comparatively easy.

    The Lion and The Mouse Charles Klein
  • Our return was clandestine for many of the members, and for me among the number.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • Oh no, I could not be married in a clandestine, discreditable way.

    The Woman-Hater Charles Reade
British Dictionary definitions for clandestine


secret and concealed, often for illicit reasons; furtive
Derived Forms
clandestinely, adverb
clandestineness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin clandestīnus, from clam secretly; related to Latin celāre to hide
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
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Word Origin and History for clandestine

1560s, from Latin clandestinus "secret, hidden," from clam "secretly," from adverbial derivative of base of celare "to hide" (see cell), perhaps on model of intestinus "internal." Related: Clandestinely. As a noun form, there is awkward clandestinity (clandestineness apparently being a dictionary word).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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