under the counter


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under the counter

Covertly or secretly (and, often, illegally). If you're selling alcohol under the counter, you could get into a lot of trouble.
See also: counter

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
References in classic literature ?
As an afterthought, he fastened the blanket with a piece of rope yarn, so that Jerry was as if tied in a sack.
But I bought drinks for others, most carefully selected--bought drinks with an air of prosperity that was as a credential to my story; and in my cups (my apparent cups, steward), spun an old man's yarn of the Wide Awake, the longboat, the bearings unnamable, and the treasure under the sand.
Then they went up to make their request in due form, to the great delight of gentle Aunt Peace, who got quite excited with the fun that went on while they would yarn, looked up darning needles, and fitted out a nice little mending basket for her pupil.
So he drifted back to his wild young days, and spun many a rare yarn for me, while we downed beer, treat by treat, all through a blessed summer afternoon.
Almost a month having elapsed since the liniment cake episode, it was high time for her to get into fresh trouble of some sort, little mistakes, such as absentmindedly emptying a pan of skim milk into a basket of yarn balls in the pantry instead of into the pigs' bucket, and walking clean over the edge of the log bridge into the brook while wrapped in imaginative reverie, not really being worth counting.
When he had gone into the house, Ursula, turning impatiently from the window, tripped and almost fell over the big ball of homespun yarn her father had flung on the floor.
But from now to the end of the yarn I want you to forget it.