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

  • n. A current, as of air or water, below another current or beneath a surface.
  • n. An underlying tendency, force, or influence often contrary to what is superficially evident; an intimation: "The Gaucho began to talk, calmly but with an undercurrent of passion” ( Thomas Pynchon).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a current which flows under the surface
  • n. An emotional presence that is concealed rather than exposed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Running beneath the surface; hidden.
  • n. A current below the surface of water, sometimes flowing in a contrary direction to that on the surface.
  • n. Hence, figuratively, a tendency of feeling, opinion, or the like, in a direction contrary to what is publicly shown; an unseen influence or tendency.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Running below or out of sight; hidden.
  • n. A current in a body of water or other liquid, or in the atmosphere, below the upper or superficial currents.
  • n. Figuratively, something at work below the surface or out of sight, as influence or feeling, which has a tendency opposite to or different from what is visible or apparent.
  • n. In hydraul. mining, an arrangement on the sluices which is intended to aid in saving the gold.

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

  • n. a subdued emotional quality underlying an utterance; implicit meaning
  • n. a current below the surface of a fluid


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • He has called for people, kids and adults alike, to redouble efforts to fight what he calls an "undercurrent of acceptability" for drunk driving.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • The most important undercurrent is the Equatorial Undercurrent that flows from the west, producing upwellings of cool water rich in nutrients near western shores.

    Galápagos National Park & Galápagos Marine Resources Reserve, Ecuador

  • But as the incidents escalate in both number and consequence, it soon becomes apparent that a darker undercurrent is stirring within the school.

    Gentlemen and Players: Summary and book reviews of Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris.

  • What he calls an "undercurrent of acceptability," however, persists that enables drunk driving.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • A more incideous undercurrent is the destruction of any notion of national identity and the sovereign state as these self same global forces harmoginise society into a 'brave new world' where notions of state sovereignty and national identity become almost 'capital' offenses. meanwhile the small family farm with its unique local identity or similar small fishing villages etc (these being the most sustainable and healthful sources of our food, timber, materials for textiles such as wool, cotton, hemp and flax etc) are run off the road.

    The Deconstruction of Women's Clothing

  • Reading a few recent reviews of the newElvis DVD, it appears to be a common observation amongst criticsthat Carpenter’s ballsier signatures and penchant for witty social undercurrent is not on display.

    Weekend Weirdness Review: John Carpenter’s Elvis Starring Kurt Russell | /Film

  • Racism is certainly not a overriding issue, but racism is an undercurrent, which is a contributor to the out of control anger and hatred directed at President Obama, from opponents on the right.

    Obama: Race not 'overriding issue' in criticism

  • Their undercurrent is a raw nerve in the American psyche.

    Mary Lyon: They Impeach Democrats, Don't They?

  • The undercurrent is a kind of sexual punishment and a sense of male entitlement about female bodies the greatest offense is sleeping with the enemy, and when Rachel herself is branded with this crime, sexual humiliation including a vat of feces poured over her naked body is the primary punishment.

    2/11: Black Book

  • And she is a smart, tough, cunning woman, but boy, you talk about an undercurrent, that is a big undercurrent.

    CNN Transcript Feb 27, 2004


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