under the counter


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under the counter

Fig. [bought or sold] in secret or illegally. (Compare this to over the counter.) The drugstore owner was arrested for selling liquor under the counter. The clerk sold dirty books under the counter.
See also: counter

under the counter

Secretly, surreptitiously, as in I'm sure they're selling liquor to minors under the counter. This expression most often alludes to an illegal transaction, the counter being the flat-surfaced furnishing or table over which legal business is conducted. It was first recorded in 1926. Also see under the table.
See also: counter

under the counter

BRITISH
If you buy or pay for something under the counter, you do it in a secret and dishonest or illegal way. The shirts disappeared from the displays but could still be purchased under the counter as recently as last Friday. Most of the trading was done under the counter, through some form of black-market barter. Note: You can also talk about an under-the-counter payment or deal, meaning one that is secret and dishonest or illegal. It was becoming common practice for athletes to receive under-the-counter payments from organizers to attend meetings. Any under-the-counter money deals were against company policy. Note: The usual American expression is under the table. Note: In Britain, during the Second World War, shopkeepers sometimes kept articles that were in great demand under the shop counter. They only sold them to special customers, often charging very high prices for them.
See also: counter

under the counter (or table)

(with reference to goods bought or sold) surreptitiously and usually illegally.
1994 Coarse Fishing Today The obvious danger is that river fish will be pinched and flogged ‘under the counter’.
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under the ˈcounter

(of goods bought or sold in a shop) secretly or illegally: Before the revolution, such luxuries were only sold under the counter.
This refers to illegal goods or goods that are only available in small quantities that are hidden, for example under the counter of the store, so that the police or general public cannot see them.
See also: counter

under the counter

In an illegal or surreptitious manner; illicitly: arrested for selling prescription drugs under the counter.
See also: counter