Meaning of “under” in the English Dictionary

"under" in English

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uk /ˈʌn.dər/ us /ˈʌn.dɚ/

under preposition (LOWER POSITION)

A1 in or to a position below or lower than something else, often so that one thing covers the other:

He hid under the bed.
In AD 79 the city of Pompei was buried under a layer of ash seven metres deep.
She put the thermometer under my tongue.
She was holding a folder under her arm (= between her upper arm and the side of her body).
They stood under a tree (= below its branches) to avoid getting wet.

specialized geography If a piece of land is under a particular type of plant, that plant is growing on the whole of that area:

The main fields are under wheat.

If a book, article, or piece of information is under a particular title, you can find it below or following that title in a list, book, library, etc.:

Books on Ansel Adams will probably be under Art or Photography.
Custard? That comes under Desserts.

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under preposition (LESS THAN)

A2 less than:

All items cost/are under a pound.
The discount applies only to children under (the age of) ten (= younger than ten).
If you get under 50 percent, you fail the exam.

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under preposition (EXPERIENCING)

B2 happening during, as a result of, or according to a particular situation, event, rule, etc.:

The work was completed under very difficult conditions.
Now that the deadline is approaching we all feel under pressure.
The chair broke under his weight (= because he was too heavy for it).
Under the current rules, you need the agreement of at least 6 out of 10 committee members.
under attack, consideration, discussion, etc.

B2 in the process of being attacked, considered, discussed, etc.:

The town is under fire (= is being attacked) from the air.
The proposals are now under consideration by the Board of Governors.
The situation is still not under control.
under sedation, anaesthetic, etc. UK

treated in the way mentioned:

The patient is being kept under heavy sedation.
She'll have to go under anaesthetic for the operation.
old-fashioned She's been under the doctor for a viral infection.
be under an impression/belief

B2 to believe something, often wrongly:

He was under the mistaken belief that I was in charge.

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under preposition (CONTROL)

controlled or governed by a particular person, organization, or force:

He's a Colonel, with hundreds of soldiers under him (= obeying his orders).
I wonder what Britain was like under the Romans (= during the time when the Romans controlled Britain).
People born under (= during the period of) the zodiac sign Pisces are supposed to be dreamy and artistic.
be under orders

to have been ordered to do something:

They're under strict orders not to discuss the situation.
He's under doctor's orders (= has been told by a doctor) to cut down on fatty food and to drink no alcohol for at least six months.

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under preposition (NAME)

using a particular name, especially one that is not your real name:

He writes under the name (of) John le Carré.
For his own safety, he has to operate under a false name/an alias.


uk /ˈʌn.dər/ us /ˈʌn.dɚ/

below the surface of something:

Because I'm a bad swimmer, I often go under and swallow a lot of water.

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uk /ʌn.dər-/ us /ʌn.dɚ-/

(Definition of “under” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"under" in American English

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us /ˌʌn·dər/

under preposition (LOWER POSITION)

in or to a position below or lower than (something else), often so that one thing covers the other:

Our dog hides under the bed whenever we have a lightning storm.
She was holding the umbrella under her arm (= between her upper arm and the side of her chest).

under preposition (LESS THAN)

less than:

The price is still under a dollar.
Scholarship candidates must be under 21 and plan to attend college in the fall.

under preposition (EXPERIENCING)

in the process of, influenced or controlled by, or according to:

Construction had to be done under difficult conditions.
Under current law, stores in this town can’t do business on Sunday.
We liked working under her because she made us feel appreciated.
"Where can I find books on swimming?" "Look under sports (= within the subject of sports)."
We seemed to be under attack (= in the process of being attacked) by a swarm of bees.
Your request for a transfer to our Denver office is under consideration (= being considered).
I was under the impression (= I believed) that she was married.
I find it difficult to work under pressure (= with this influence).

underadverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈʌn·dər/

under adverb [ not gradable ] (LESS THAN)

less than something else:

There is no admission charge for children six and under.

under adverb [ not gradable ] (LOWER POSITION)

below or lower than something else:

Several lifeguards tried desperately to reach him before he went under (= sank below the surface of the water).


us /ˌʌn·dər/

not enough:

The potatoes were undercooked.
Classes were too large because the school was understaffed.

(Definition of “under” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)