[uhn-der-kur-uhnt, -kuhr-]
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.
a current, as of air or water, that flows below the upper currents or surface.

1675–85; under- + current

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World English Dictionary
undercurrent (ˈʌndəˌkʌrənt)
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

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

1663, "stream of water or air flowing beneath the surface or beneath another current," a hybrid formed from under + current. The fig. sense of "suppressed or underlying character" is attested from 1817.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
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.
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