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

  • adv. In secret; privately or confidentially: held the meeting sub rosa.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Carried out secretly or confidentially
  • adv. In secret or covertly; privately or confidentially
  • n. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

  • adv. in secret or covertly


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.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested 1654, from Latin sub rosā ("under the rose"), from sub ("under") + rosā ("rose"). (Wiktionary)


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

    October 27, 2008

  • "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

  • 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