Difference Between Undercover and Clandestine

Do you want to know what the difference between undercover and clandestine is? You are on the right place to know the answer of this question.

The terms covert and clandestine are often used interchangeably and in the same context, as if they were the same thing.

However, it is important to highlight that although both words have similar connotations, there is a clear difference between one thing and the other.

Both the term clandestine and covert refer to things that are done secretly or not openly. But it should never be forgotten that the implications of these two terms are different.

Difference Between Undercover and Clandestine

If you have doubts about the difference between clandestine and undercover or you are simply looking for a little more information that complements what you already know, continue reading, because below we explain everything you need to know about this matter.


It refers to something that is not openly acknowledged or presented. It is something that is kept secret, although it may be something that only a few know about, that is kept hidden from others and not discussed with everyone.

This term is frequently used in the military context. For example: undercover operations, undercover agents, and undercover spies.

In these cases it should be noted that although the general public has heard about the aforementioned, the military does not speak openly about it because doing so could pass confidential information to the enemy.


On the other hand, clandestine that is not only secret, but is made to stay hidden. In many cases, not only is it something that one or more people want to hide, but they have to hide it because it is illegal or immoral.

Unlike the previous term, clandestine can describe something in any context, be it military or civilian. As with covert things, clandestine things are kept hidden because if revealed they could represent a security hazard.

They also imply that they are not entirely legal or moral. For example, a clandestine mission to kill some important person

Finally, compared to “undercover”, the term underground is used more frequently in everyday speech, since it is the one used when it comes to morally questionable things that are done in secret. For example: encounters between couples who commit adultery.