under the table

Idioms & Phrases

under the table

In secret, as in They paid her under the table so as to avoid taxes. This term alludes to money being passed under a table in some shady transaction, such as a bribe. [Mid-1900s] Also see under the counter.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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