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

  • preposition In a lower position or place than.
  • preposition To or into a lower position or place than.
  • preposition Beneath the surface of.
  • preposition Beneath the assumed surface or guise of.
  • preposition Less than; smaller than.
  • preposition Less than the required amount or degree of.
  • preposition Inferior to in status or rank.
  • preposition Subject to the authority, rule, or control of.
  • preposition Subject to the supervision, instruction, or influence of.
  • preposition Undergoing or receiving the effects of.
  • preposition Subject to the restraint or obligation of.
  • preposition Within the group or classification of.
  • preposition In the process of.
  • preposition In view of; because of.
  • preposition With the authorization of.
  • preposition Sowed or planted with.
  • preposition Nautical Powered or propelled by.
  • preposition During the time conventionally assigned to (a sign of the zodiac).
  • adverb In or into a place below or beneath.
  • adverb So as to be covered or enveloped.
  • adverb So as to be less than the required amount or degree.
  • adverb So as to be rendered unconscious, as by an anesthetic.
  • adverb In or into a condition of ruin or death.
  • adjective Located or situated on a lower level or beneath something else.
  • adjective Lower in rank, power, or authority; subordinate.
  • adjective Less than is required or customary.
  • idiom (out from under) Having gotten free of worries or difficulties.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Lower in position; situated beneath: opposed to upper: as, the under side; the under mandible.
  • Lower in rank or degree. See under, adverb, note .
  • Of sounds, lower in pitch.
  • Below; beneath: expressing position with reference to that which is above, whether in immediate contact or not, or which towers aloft, surmounts, covers, or overtops: as, all under heaven; under the earth or the sea; under the surface; under the table; to take shelter under a tree; to live under the same roof; to hide a thing under a heap of straw; to hide one's light under a bushel; to overhear a conversation under one's windows.
  • In or at a place, point, or position that is lower than; further down than; immediately below: as, to hit a man under the belt; to have pains under the arms.
  • In the position or state of, or while bearing, supporting, sustaining, receiving, suffering, undergoing, or the like: as, to sink under a load; to act under great excitement.
  • Inferior to in point of rank, dignity, social position, or the like.
  • Inferior to or less than, with respect to number, amount, quantity, value, age, etc.; falling short of; in or to a less degree than; hence, at, for, or with less than: as, it cannot be bought under $20.
  • Of sounds, inferior to, in pitch.
  • Subject to.
  • Liable or exposed to: as, under fire; under the penalty of fine or imprisonment.
  • Subject to the government, rule, command, direction, orders, guidance, or instruction of: as, to serve under Wellington; I studied under him; to sit under a favorite preacher.
  • Subject to the influence or operation of; actuated by.
  • In accordance with; in conformity with: as, to sell out under the rule.
  • Bound by: as, to be under bonds, or a vow.
  • In: with reference to circumstances.
  • In: with reference to category, division, section, class, etc.: as, to treat several topics under one head.
  • In course of: as, to be under treatment, or under discussion.
  • In the form or style of; by the appearance or show of; with the character, designation, pretense, pretext, or cover of.
  • During the time or existence of: said especially of rulers and their period of rule: as, Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate; the Armada was destroyed under the reign of Elizabeth; the American revolution broke out under the administration of Lord North.
  • With the sanction, authorization, permission, or protection of: as, under favor; under leave; under protection, etc.
  • [The preposition under in adverbial phrases often coalesces with its noun to form an adverb, from which the adjective or noun may be derived: as, under ground, ⟩ underground, adverb, ⟩ underground, a.; under hand, ⟩ underhand, adverb, ⟩ underhand, adjective; so underboard, underearth, underfoot, etc. Such forms are not true compounds, but are coalesced phrases, like aground, aboard, afoot, etc.]


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

[Middle English, from Old English; see n̥dher- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English under, from Proto-Germanic *under (whence also German unter, Dutch onder), from a merger of Proto-Indo-European *n̥dʰér (“under”) and *n̥tér (“inside”). Akin to Old High German untar ("under"), Latin infra ("below, beneath"). More at infra-


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  • The provost, desiring to guard them from the danger of infection, published an order that all persons of both sexes, suffering under certain specified maladies, should quit the capital in twenty-four hours, _under the penalty of being thrown into the river_!

    The International Monthly Magazine - Volume V - No II Various

  • -- The reservatory clause proposed in our Memorial is what is usual in royal grants; and in the present case, the Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council, we hope, will be of opinion, it is quite sufficient, more especially as we are able to prove to their Lordships, that there are no "possessions," within the boundaries of the lands under consideration, which are held "_under legal titles_."

    Report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations on the Petition of the Honourable Thomas Walpole, Benjamin Franklin, John Sargent, and Samuel Wharton, Esquires, and their Associates 1772 Great Britain. Board of Trade

  • So that is the reason why I look under my bed every night, to see if anybody is hid away there; because the very idea of having a man _under_ a body's bed, is so awful!

    Venus in Boston; A Romance of City Life George Thompson

  • But directly under the mountain there was no wind, and their position was as that of a person who is _under_ the curve of a waterfall.

    Tom Slade's Double Dare Percy Keese Fitzhugh 1913

  • Eve, _in_ the middle of a Ring, and under -- right _under_ one of my oldest hills in Old England?

    Puck of Pook's Hill Rudyard Kipling 1900

  • [733] Unfortunately the class 50 acres and under at this time included holdings _under_ one acre, so that it is useless for the comparison of the number of small holdings at the two dates, for in 1907 none appear under one acre.

    A Short History of English Agriculture 1893

  • General Rules made by His Excellency the Governor, acting under the advice of the Executive Council for the Government of Prisons, for the guidance of the prison officers, _under and by authority of

    Darkest India A Supplement to General Booth's "In Darkest England, and the Way Out" Commissioner Booth-Tucker 1891

  • B. conjectures under hrōf genam; but Ha., p. 45, shows this to be unnecessary, under also meaning _in_, as _in_ (or _under_) these circumstances. l.

    Beowulf Robert Sharp 1879

  • B. conjectures under hrôf genam; but Ha., p. 45, shows this to be unnecessary, under also meaning _in_, as _in_ (or _under_) these circumstances. l.

    Beowulf Robert Sharp 1879

  • Now when Mate fled to his own place, this great fool Tangaro noticed the path, but forgot which it was, and pointed it out to men under the impression that it was the road to the _upper_, not to the _under_, world.

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang 1878


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