Clandestine Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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If you’re a super-spy working on a top-secret mission, then you’ve probably come across the term clandestine (klændɛstɪn) once or twice — but do you know what it means? 

Not to worry; this article will provide you with all there is to know about the term clandestine, including its definition, origin, usage, and more.  

What Is the Definition of Clandestine?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the adjective (adj.) clandestine is used to describe something that is kept secret or done secretively — especially because it’s illegal. 

In simpler terms, the definition behind our word of the day is something that is done in secrecy. For example, think of your clandestine attempts to steal your little sister’s Halloween candy.   

Although clandestine is most commonly known as an adjective that denotes secrecy, it does have a few other uses:

  • Clandestine is the name of the second studio album by Swedish death metal band Entombed
  • A Celtic music band from Texas goes by the name Clandestine
  • ClanDestine is a popular comic book series by Alan Davis published by Marvel Comics
  • Clandestine is the name of a 1938 novel written by James Ellroy
  • Clandestine is a name for the parasitic plant Lathraea clandestina
  • Clandestino is also the name of the evil antagonist of the kid’s series The Bluffers

As you can see, our word of the day has many various uses, so be sure to pick up on context clues when you come across the term to ensure that you understand how it’s being used.  

What Is the Etymology of Clandestine?

The history behind clandestine is a bit blurry, but it’s believed to have come from French clandestin, which was derived from the Latin clandestīnus (meaning “secret, concealed”) and related to the Latin celāre (meaning “to hide”).

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Clandestine?

One excellent technique for memorizing new terms as well as improving your overall vocabulary is to learn synonyms and antonyms

In case you forgot from grade school, a synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly the same — or nearly the same — as another word. On the other hand, antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of another word.  


  • Covert
  • Stealthy
  • Secret
  • Backstairs
  • Undercover
  • Underhand
  • Cloak-and-dagger
  • Down-Low
  • Illicit
  • Classified
  • Covertly
  • Privvy
  • Hole-and-corner
  • Surreptitious
  • Furtive
  • Hidden
  • Artful
  • Hugger-mugger
  • Hush-hush
  • Fraudulent 
  • Confidentially
  • Concealed


  • Candid
  • Forthright
  • Open
  • Public
  • Truthful
  • Authorized
  • Known
  • Honest
  • Unclassified

How Can You Use Clandestine in a Sentence?

Ready to put your newfound knowledge to the test? Quiz yourself to see how many sentences you can come up with properly using the word clandestine. 

To get started, review the example sentences we have listed for you below:

If you’re looking for the related words of clandestine, you may want to consider opening up a thesaurus.

Cara is a clandestine officer of the FBI, so working undercover around the globe is nothing new to her.

Our group holds weekly clandestine meetings in the church.

The spyware shop has all kinds of clandestine technology.

Since the FBI are searching for Mario, he must move around in a clandestine manner.

The clandestine operation was a bust.

Mark used clandestine measures to steal his manager’s password.

A gathering in a hidden location is a good example of clandestine.

I am not particularly fond of holding a clandestine meeting, but if it’s the only way that you’ll talk to me then count me in.

The rockstar and his famous girlfriend held a clandestine wedding to keep the media at bay.

Clandestine intelligence operations are performed by the CIA and the CIA only.

The lover’s clandestine meeting took place at a random house on Apple Street every Tuesday at 6 pm.

Brittnee entered the lucrative clandestine trade of selling feet pictures in order to pay her rent.

When clandestine activities are afoot, the justice department steps in.

The residents remember rather fondly the clandestine airdrops by the CIA from many years ago.

Did you know that the Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defined clandestine and clandestine operation the same exact way?

What Are Translations of Clandestine?

Did you know that there’s more than one way to say our word of the day? Yup, it’s true — here are some common translations of clandestine:

  • Italian: clandestino 
  • Japanese: 秘密の悪だくみなどの
  • Korean: 비밀의
  • American English: clandestine
  • Brazilian Portuguese: clandestino 
  • Chinese: 暗中的常指非法地
  • European Spanish: clandestino 
  • French: clandestin 
  • German: geheim
  • European Portuguese: clandestino 
  • Spanish: clandestino 
  • Thai: ซึ่งลักลอบ, ลับๆ
  • British English: clandestine


Simply put, the adjective clandestine is used to describe something kept or done in secret — often to conceal an illicit or improper purpose. Clandestine is also the name of a clothing label by Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy.  

We hope this article provided you with a clear understanding of the term clandestine. If you’d like to discover more interesting terms and their definitions, we invite you to check out our website

Whether you’re looking for grammar tools or simply hoping to make sense of a complex word, you can always count on us to have your back. 


CLANDESTINE: definition | The Cambridge English Dictionary

CLANDESTINE English Definition and Meaning |

Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz to open Clandestine store in Chicago |