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[suhb-tuh-rey-nee-uh n] /ˌsʌb təˈreɪ ni ən/
adjective, Also, subterraneous
existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground.
existing or operating out of sight or secretly; hidden or secret.
a person or thing that is subterranean.
a subterrane.
Origin of subterranean
1595-1605; < Latin subterrāne(us) (see subterrane) + -an
Related forms
subterraneanly, subterraneously, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for subterranean
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mr. Robinson gives an excellent account, not only of the subterranean, but also of the open-air culture of mushrooms about Paris.

    Fungi: Their Nature and Uses Mordecai Cubitt Cooke
  • We are like men in a subterranean cave, so chained that they can look only forward to the entrance.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Has a ray of light penetrated into the subterranean gloom of your office?

    Comrade Yetta Albert Edwards
  • Humboldt says that they were cast up from subterranean sources.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • By providing a subterranean channel for them, he saved them from the enemy and secured the water-supply of the besieged city.

    The Expositor's Bible F. W. Farrar
  • Purdy did not hit for the subterranean hang-out of the gang.

    Prairie Flowers James B. Hendryx
British Dictionary definitions for subterranean


Also subterraneous, subterrestrial. situated, living, or operating below the surface of the earth
existing or operating in concealment
Derived Forms
subterraneanly, subterraneously, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin subterrāneus, from sub- + terra earth
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 subterranean

c.1600, from Latin subterraneus "underground," from sub "under" (see sub-) + terra "earth" (see terrain).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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