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

  • adjective Sports Executed with the hand brought forward and up from below the level of the shoulder; underarm.
  • adjective Dishonest and sneaky; underhanded.
  • adverb With an underhand movement.
  • adverb In a sly and secret way.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • By secret means; in a clandestine manner, and often with an evil design.
  • By fraud; by fraudulent means.
  • Secret; clandestine: usually implying meanness or fraud, or both.
  • Sly; contriving; deceitful.
  • Performed or done with the knuckles of the hand turned under, the palm upward, and the thumb turned from the body: as, underhand bowling in cricket.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Secret; clandestine; hence, mean; unfair; fraudulent.
  • adjective (Baseball, Cricket, etc.) Done, as pitching, with the hand lower than the shoulder, or, as bowling, with the hand lower than the elbow.
  • adverb By secret means; in a clandestine manner; hence, by fraud; unfairly; dishonorably.
  • adverb (Baseball, Cricket, etc.) In an underhand manner; thrown with the hand no higher than the shoulder and the palm turned upward during part of the pitch; -- said of pitching or bowling a ball.

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

  • adjective dishonest and sneaky; done in a secret or sly manner
  • adjective of a ball thrown etc with the hand brought forward and up from below
  • adverb with an underhand movement
  • adverb in a sly, sneaky or secret manner

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

  • adverb slyly and secretly
  • adjective with hand brought forward and up from below shoulder level
  • adjective marked by deception
  • adverb with the hand swung below shoulder level


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English under hand


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word underhand.


  • The head of Nato in Libya, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, said Col Gaddafi's forces had employed what he called underhand and immoral tactics in their seven-week drive to dislodge the rebels from the city.

    BBC News - Home 2011

  • Taking that an 'putting it with the murder an' other funny things that's been happening about Mr. Sumner lately, it 'pears to me that something underhand is going on, he said with a deferential bow.

    Hagar's Daughter: A Story of Southern Caste Prejudice Pauline Elizabeth 1902

  • It was of course the law of the place that they were never to take no notice, as Mr. Buckton said, whom they served; but this also never prevented, certainly on the same gentleman's own part, what he was fond of describing as the underhand game.

    In the Cage Henry James 1879

  • The statement is cut short as the blind man draws his sword underhand, drives the point into his damaged right foot, and contorts his body with torso straining into a ninety degree bend.

    Ain't It Cool News - The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news. 2009

  • ZAKARIA: And what do you say to people who say, this was a kind of underhand move, it should have been done by referendum?

    CNN Transcript Nov 2, 2008 2008

  • Deputy President Thabo Mbeki's office on Sunday issued a statement rejecting what it said were suggestions in weekend newspaper that he played an "underhand" role in Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to quit as deputy chairman of the New Africa Investment

    ANC Daily News Briefing 1999

  • I have watched her from time to time, and I can not find that she has ever been guilty of disobedience to rules, or any kind of underhand behavior.

    Katie Robertson A Girls Story of Factory Life Margaret E. Winslow

  • I never did and still do think they never meant more than to give us a kind of underhand assistance; that is, to supply us with arms, etc., for our money and trade.

    Washington and the French. III. II 1916

  • He made one president, and could have been it himself, instead, if he'd be'n willing to do a kind of underhand trick, but I expect without it he was about as big a man as anybody'd care to be; Governor, Senator, Secretary of State -- and just owned his party!

    In the Arena Stories of Political Life Booth Tarkington 1907

  • To effectuate this was the work of Alfieri -- of Alfieri, who, of all men, was most interested to keep Mme. d'Albany in her husband's house; of Alfieri, who, of all men, was the least fitted for any kind of underhand practices.

    The Countess of Albany Vernon Lee 1895


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.