underworld

[uhn-der-wurld]
noun
1.
the criminal element of human society.
2.
the imagined abode of departed souls or spirits; Hades.
3.
a region below the surface, as of the earth or a body of water.
4.
the opposite side of the earth; the antipodes.
5.
Archaic. the earth.

Origin:
1600–10; under- + world

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
underworld (ˈʌndəˌwɜːld)
 
n
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
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

underworld
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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Example sentences
Even as the hacking underworld has splintered, new threats are emerging.
It is an engine of growth in the underworld of the city's informal economy, a
  vast sector with an astonishing volume of supply.
Furthermore, he thought he knew where to look for them: in the weird underworld
  of quantum mechanics.
Researchers have discovered an underworld of genetic exchange among bacteria,
  one more vast than previously imagined.
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