from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb In secret; privately or confidentially.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Under the rose; privately. The rose is the emblem of silence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Carried out secretly or confidentially
  • adverb In secret or covertly; privately or confidentially
  • noun Slang. Used in Workers' Compensation cases to mean covert surveillance video used to catch Workers' Compensation applicants and show that they are in fact not injured. Also spelled subrosa.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb in secret or covertly


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin sub rosā, under the rose (from the practice of hanging a rose over a meeting as a symbol of confidentiality) : sub, under + rosā, ablative of rosa, rose.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested 1654, from Latin sub rosā ("under the rose"), from sub ("under") + rosā ("rose").


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  • Sub rosa comes from the Latin, literally "under the rose," from the ancient association of the rose with confidentiality, the origin of which traces to a famous story in which Cupid gave Harpocrates, the god of silence, a rose to bribe him not to betray the confidence of Venus. Hence the ceilings of Roman banquet-rooms were decorated with roses to remind guests that what was spoken 'sub vino' (under the influence of wine) was also sub rosa.

    March 26, 2007

  • "The similarity was eerie precise because there was on one thing the protesting, horrified eye could pin it on. It was sub rosa, deeply buried between the lines, but so real it shrieked: that trick of crossing the feet during the stretch, of splaying the fingers stiffly beside either thigh, the tight little crinkle of the eyes."

    - 'The Dark Half', Stephen King.

    December 31, 2007

  • The worst episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sometimes things aren't just bad, they're Sub Rosa-bad.

    October 27, 2008