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undercurrent

[uhn-der-kur-uh nt, -kuhr-] /ˈʌn dərˌkɜr ənt, -ˌkʌr-/
noun
1.
a tendency underlying or at variance with the obvious or superficial significance of words, actions, etc.:
Even in his friendliest remarks, one could sense an undercurrent of hostility.
2.
a current, as of air or water, that flows below the upper currents or surface.
Origin
1675-1685
1675-85; under- + current
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for undercurrent
  • He plays his fine vocal instrument with great sweetness, yet there is an undercurrent of sadness.
  • There is an undercurrent of excitement running through the watch.
  • But he also sees a more unsettling undercurrent to the structure.
  • Nevertheless, the undercurrent of reaction was gathering strength.
  • It is the undercurrent rather than the surface of his verse which moves with a strong religious conviction.
  • There is obviously an undercurrent of resentment out there.
  • However, an undercurrent of anxiety runs through the hilarity.
  • Such opposition has always been a powerful undercurrent.
  • It struck me, though, that there was also a strong undercurrent of frustration with your being so dependent upon loved ones.
  • Perhaps worse than the shoddiness of the film, though, is its sour narrative undercurrent.
British Dictionary definitions for undercurrent

undercurrent

/ˈʌndəˌkʌrənt/
noun
1.
a current that is not apparent at the surface or lies beneath another current
2.
an opinion, emotion, etc, lying beneath apparent feeling or meaning
Also called underflow
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 undercurrent
n.

1660s, "stream of water or air flowing beneath the surface or beneath another current," a hybrid formed from under + current (n.). The figurative sense of "suppressed or underlying character" is attested from 1817.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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