World English Dictionary
underworld (ˈʌndəˌwɜːld)
1.  a.  criminals and their associates considered collectively
 b.  (as modifier): underworld connections
2.  the regions below the earth's surface regarded as the abode of the dead; Hades
Related: chthonian, chthonic

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1608, "the lower world, Hades," also "the earth," as distinguished from heaven (1609). Cf. Ger. unterwelt, Du. onderwereld, Dan. underverden. Meaning "lower level of society" is first recorded 1890; "criminals and organized crime collectively" is attested from 1900.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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