under cover

under cover

verb (used with object)

  1. to be or serve as a covering for; extend over; rest on the surface of: Snow covered the fields.
  2. to place something over or upon, as for protection, concealment, or warmth.
  3. to provide with a covering or top: Cover the pot with a lid.
  4. to protect or conceal (the body, head, etc.) with clothes, a hat, etc; wrap.
  5. to bring upon (oneself): He covered himself with glory by his exploits.
  6. to hide from view; screen.
  7. to spread on or over; apply to: to cover bread with honey.
  8. to put all over the surface of: to cover a wall with paint.
  9. to include, deal with, or provide for; address: The rules cover working conditions.
  10. to suffice to defray or meet (a charge, expense, etc.): Ten dollars should cover my expenses.
  11. to offset (an outlay, loss, liability, etc.).
  12. to achieve in distance traversed; pass or travel over: We covered 600 miles a day on our trip.
  13. Journalism.
    1. to act as a reporter or reviewer of (an event, a field of interest, a performance, etc.); have as an assignment: She covers sports for the paper.
    2. to publish or broadcast a report or reports of (a news item, a series of related events, etc.): The press covered the trial in great detail.
  14. to pass or rise over and surmount or envelop: The river covered the town during the flood.
  15. Insurance. to insure against risk or loss.
  16. to shelter; protect; serve as a defense for.
  17. Military.
    1. to be in line with by occupying a position directly before or behind.
    2. to protect (a soldier, force, or military position) during an expected period of ground combat by taking a position from which any hostile troops can be fired upon.
  18. to take temporary charge of or responsibility for in place of another: Please cover my phone while I’m out to lunch.
  19. to extend over; comprise: The book covers 18th-century England.
  20. to be assigned to or responsible for, as a territory or field of endeavor: We have two sales representatives covering the Southwest.
  21. to aim at, as with a pistol.
  22. to have within range, as a fortress does adjacent territory.
  23. to play a card higher than (the one led or previously played in the round).
  24. to deposit the equivalent of (money deposited), as in wagering.
  25. to accept the conditions of (a bet, wager, etc.).
  26. (in short selling) to purchase securities or commodities in order to deliver them to the broker from whom they were borrowed.
  27. Baseball. to take a position close to or at (a base) so as to catch a ball thrown to the base: The shortstop covered second on the attempted steal.
  28. Sports. to guard (an opponent on offense) so as to prevent him or her from scoring or carrying out his or her assignment: to cover a potential pass receiver.
  29. (especially of a male animal) to copulate with.
  30. (of a hen) to brood or sit on (eggs or chicks).

verb (used without object)

  1. Informal. to serve as a substitute for someone who is absent: We cover for the receptionist during lunch hour.
  2. to hide the wrongful or embarrassing action of another by providing an alibi or acting in the other’s place: They covered for him when he missed roll call.
  3. to play a card higher than the one led or previously played in the round: She led the eight and I covered with the jack.
  4. to spread over an area or surface, especially for the purpose of obscuring an existing covering or of achieving a desired thickness and evenness: This paint is much too thin to cover.


  1. something that covers, as the lid of a container or the binding of a book.
  2. a blanket, quilt, or the like: Put another cover on the bed.
  3. protection; shelter; concealment.
  4. anything that veils, screens, or shuts from sight: under cover of darkness.
  5. woods, underbrush, etc., serving to shelter and conceal wild animals or game; a covert.
  6. Ecology. vegetation that serves to protect or conceal animals, such as birds, from excessive sunlight, from drying, or from predators.
  7. a set of eating utensils and the like, as plate, knife, fork, and napkin, placed for each person at a table.
  8. an assumed identity, occupation, or business that masks the true or real one: His job at the embassy was a cover for his work as a spy.
  9. a covering of snow, especially when suitable for skiing.
  10. a pretense; feigning.
  11. a person who substitutes for another or stands ready to substitute if needed: She was hired as a cover for six roles at the opera house.
  12. cover charge.
  13. Philately.
    1. an envelope or outer wrapping for mail.
    2. a letter folded so that the address may be placed on the outside and the missive mailed.
  14. Finance. funds to cover liability or secure against risk of loss.
  15. Music. cover version.
  16. Also called covering. Mathematics. a collection of sets having the property that a given set is contained in the union of the sets in the collection.

Verb Phrases

  1. cover up,
    1. to cover completely; enfold.
    2. to keep secret; conceal: She tried to cover up her part in the plot.


  1. blow one’s cover, to divulge one’s secret identity, especially inadvertently: The TV news story blew his carefully fabricated cover.
  2. break cover, to emerge, especially suddenly, from a place of concealment: The fox broke cover and the chase was on.
  3. cover one’s/someone’s ass, Slang: Vulgar. to take measures that will prevent oneself or another person from suffering blame, loss, harm, etc.
  4. take cover, to seek shelter or safety: The hikers took cover in a deserted cabin to escape the sudden storm.
  5. under cover,
    1. clandestinely; secretly: Arrangements for the escape were made under cover.
    2. within an envelope: The report will be mailed to you under separate cover.

verb (mainly tr)

  1. to place or spread something over so as to protect or conceal
  2. to provide with a covering; clothe
  3. to put a garment, esp a hat, on (the body or head)
  4. to extend over or lie thickly on the surface of; spreadsnow covered the fields
  5. to bring upon (oneself); invest (oneself) as if with a coveringcovered with shame
  6. (sometimes foll by up) to act as a screen or concealment for; hide from view
  7. military to protect (an individual, formation, or place) by taking up a position from which fire may be returned if those being protected are fired upon
  8. (also intr, often foll by for) to assume responsibility for (a person or thing)to cover for a colleague in his absence
  9. (intr; foll by for or up for) to provide an alibi (for)
  10. to have as one’s territorythis salesman covers your area
  11. to travel overto cover three miles a day
  12. (tr) to have or place in the aim and within the range of (a firearm)
  13. to include or deal withhis talk covered all aspects of the subject
  14. (of an asset or income) to be sufficient to meet (a liability or expense)
    1. to insure against loss, risk, etc
    2. to provide for (loss, risk, etc) by insurance
  15. (also intr) finance to purchase (securities, etc) in order to meet contracts, esp short sales
  16. to deposit (an equivalent stake) in a bet or wager
  17. (also intr) to play a card higher in rank than (one played beforehand by another player)
  18. to act as reporter or photographer on (a news event, etc) for a newspaper or magazineto cover sports events
  19. sport to guard or protect (an opponent, team-mate, or area)
  20. music to record a cover version of
  21. (of a male animal, esp a horse) to copulate with (a female animal)
  22. (of a bird) to brood (eggs)


  1. anything that covers, spreads over, protects, or conceals
  2. woods or bushes providing shelter or a habitat for wild creatures
    1. a blanket used on a bed for warmth
    2. another word for bedspread
  3. finance liquid assets, reserves, or guaranteed income sufficient to discharge a liability, meet an expenditure, etc
  4. a pretext, disguise, or false identitythe thief sold brushes as a cover
  5. insurance another word for coverage (def. 3)
  6. an envelope or package for sending through the postunder plain cover
  7. philately
    1. an entire envelope that has been postmarked
    2. on cover(of a postage stamp) kept in this form by collectors
  8. an individual table setting, esp in a restaurant
  9. sport the guarding or protection of an opponent, team-mate, or area
  10. Also called: cover version a version by a different artist of a previously recorded musical item
  11. cricket
    1. (often plural)the area more or less at right angles to the pitch on the off side and usually about halfway to the boundaryto field in the covers
    2. (as modifier)a cover drive by a batsman
    3. Also called: cover pointa fielder in such a position
  12. ecology the percentage of the ground surface covered by a given species of plant
  13. break cover (esp of game animals) to come out from a shelter or hiding place
  14. take cover to make for a place of safety or shelter
  15. under cover protected, concealed, or in secretunder cover of night

v.mid-12c., from Old French covrir (12c., Modern French couvrir) “to cover, protect, conceal, dissemble,” from Late Latin coperire, from Latin cooperire “to cover over, overwhelm, bury,” from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + operire “to close, cover” (see weir). Related: Covered; covering. Military sense is from 1680s; newspaper sense first recorded 1893; use in football dates from 1907. Betting sense is 1857. OF horses, as a euphemism for “copulate” it dates from 1530s. Covered wagon attested from 1745. n.early 13c., in compounds, from cover (v.). Meaning “recording of a song already recorded by another” is 1966. Cover girl is U.S. slang from 1915, shortening of magazine-cover girl. 1Protected by a shelter, as in It began to pour but fortunately we were under cover. [c. 1400] 2under cover of. Also, under the cover of. Hidden or protected by, as in They sneaked out under cover of darkness, or, as it was put in a sermon in 1751: “Presumption which loves to conceal itself under the cover of humility” (John Jortin, Sermons on Different Subjects). In addition to the idioms beginning with cover

  • cover for
  • cover girl
  • cover ground
  • cover one’s ass
  • cover one’s tracks
  • cover story
  • cover the field
  • cover up
  • also see:

  • blow one’s cover
  • break cover
  • judge a book by its cover
  • (cover a) multitude of sins
  • take cover
  • under cover
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