Definition of undercurrent in English:


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  • 1An underlying feeling or influence, especially one that is contrary to the prevailing atmosphere and is not expressed openly.

    ‘an undercurrent of anger and discontent’
    • ‘The buoyant mood of his audience was certainly out of kilter with the deep undercurrent of frustration evident elsewhere in Bournemouth this week.’
    • ‘As Stephen becomes reluctantly drawn into the lives of his rural neighbours, he becomes a witness to the undercurrents of love, hate and obsession that swirl beneath the superficial tranquillity of the countryside.’
    • ‘The artists' chain of contrasting attitudes reveals debates within society, undercurrents of unrest and anxieties about city life.’
    • ‘Collectively, the soldiers let out a singular cry of anger, with undercurrents of anguish.’
    • ‘There was an undercurrent of anger and jealousy that wouldn't let me admit that I'd done wrong.’
    • ‘The interaction between doctor and patient is full of emotional undercurrents, including hope, trust, belief, and confidence.’
    • ‘After all, anyone can relate to those moments when the calm is broken by the undercurrents of anguish, disappointment and resentment that run through every family.’
    • ‘I have no idea, having not really watched it, but there seemed a real undercurrent of anger going down.’
    • ‘Under its smooth surface lies the seething undercurrent of teenage insecurity.’
    • ‘Athletic and unyielding though they might be, the visitors were not always the cause of the match's nasty undercurrents bubbling to the surface.’
    • ‘We cannot, must not, live our lives expecting the worst, but neither can we ignore the undercurrent of anxiety flowing through the capital.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, although full-scale popular uprisings ended under Louis XIV, there were important undercurrents of popular protest throughout the eighteenth century.’
    • ‘When the couples meet for dinner, undercurrents immediately start rippling through the group.’
    • ‘Sabriel felt a strong undercurrent of understanding pass between them, and received the profound impression that she had made a loyal friend for life.’
    • ‘The story is a simple one, but a darker undercurrent runs through it.’
    • ‘An obsession with hair is a peculiar undercurrent throughout films of this genre.’
    • ‘But I think he excels at understanding the undercurrents that should end up on the screen, but doesn't know how to achieve them.’
    • ‘At first, since we have no background on the situation portrayed here, we can't understand what the emotional undercurrents are.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, an undercurrent of anxiety ran through the newsroom.’
    • ‘It's really emotionally-charged, powerful stuff and lots of seething undercurrents come bubbling to the surface.’
    undertone, overtone, suggestion, connotation, implication, intimation, hint, nuance, trace, suspicion, whisper, murmur, touch, tinge
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  • 2A current of water below the surface and moving in a different direction from any surface current.

    ‘In tidal water the undercurrents may often be going in the opposite direction to the top flow.’
    • ‘However, waves generated in deep offshore waters that eventually overtop in shallower water and break on the coast, creating a surf-zone with reversing undercurrents, are fundamentally different from the waves in shallow lakes.’
    • ‘The tides and undercurrents are notorious, and even in summer bathing is not recommended.’
    • ‘Thus an undercurrent, called the Western Boundary Undercurrent, travels along the continental slope and rise.’
    • ‘Tragically that's when they discover the water is freezing cold, with strong undercurrents.’
    • ‘Also, a word of caution to the inexperienced adventurer: make sure you stay away from white waters because that means there are strong undercurrents.’
    • ‘A Foreign Office spokeswoman said Mr Long drowned after getting into difficulties in the rough water, where there are strong undercurrents.’
    • ‘Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there's no undercurrent, just an offshore current.’
    • ‘The undercurrent tugged lightly at her, but it was easy to fight.’
    • ‘Locals have said that part of the reservoir is deep and has strong undercurrents.’
    undertow, underflow, underswell, underdrift, understream, undertide, underrun
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