From under- +‎ word.


underword (plural underwords)

  1. A word placed below another, either literally or metaphorically: a subtext; an inadequate or subordinate term or description; a secret word or phrase; a watchword
    • 1867, The loyalist's daughter, by a royalist - Page 8:
      The soldier hesitated, and seemed to mistrust the party; he raised his lantern, and cast a scrutinising look at them, but an underword and a mysterious look of recognition removed his doubts, and they passed on.
    • 1894, E. A. C. M., Parva Seges - Page 34:
      Such underwords of nature thrill With wonder and with mystery; The wind has blown them from the hill, The waves have whispered to the sea; And nature all is manifold Akin with lore we cannot tell, [...]
    • 1960, Economica - Page 195:
      Just as the theory of aggregate demand sank to an “underword” of debate, so too did the sociology of fertility, once Nassau Senior and Richard Jones had completed the substitution of the psychological for the physiological interpretation.
    • 1996, T. G. Bishop, Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder - Page 161:
      Cordial for cordial, issue for issue, kiss for kiss, stain for stain, grace for grace, wooing for wooing, warmth for heat: each echo arises to its invocation as a kind of “underword,” a ghost word to be laid and replaced by the strength of the scene to which it is summoned.
    • 1997, Hisaaki Yamanouchi, ‎George Hughes, Corresponding Powers - Page 7:
      To emphasize this point, Blake actually buries the text underground, and worms, rather than plant tendrils, divide the stanzas. And at the base of the plate, in the "underword" that has been created through devotion to a specific idea of death, we see the coffin, covered with turf, and marked with criss-crossed briars.
    • 1998, Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, The Poetry of Seamus Heaney - Page 137:
      They are invisible fosterers in the sense that neither is named within the text. Each speaks an underword - italicised to indicate its fragmentary, translated nature - [...]
    • 2008, Charles W. Spurgeon, The Poetry of Westminster Abbey - Page 182:
      While to that voice amid those memories heard Answered her underword, No wonder if the Eternal Presence then Seemed mute no more to men, [...]
      Beautiful is an underword to describe you, [...]