What does “under the radar” mean?

Uncover the fascinating history and usage of the idiom 'Under the Radar,' describing something or someone that is unnoticed or not getting attention. Explore literal and figurative meanings, examples, and synonyms.

Understanding the Idiom

Under the radar is an idiom that means something or someone is not getting attention or going unnoticed.

It is often used to describe a situation where something is happening without being detected or observed.

The idiom can be used in both literal and figurative contexts.

Origins and History

The phrase “under the radar” originated after World War II when radar technology was first used to detect incoming fighter and bomber jets.

Due to interference with radio waves by the ground, planes that flew low could not be detected by radar.

So those planes that could not be detected were said to have flown under the radar.

Over time, the phrase evolved to refer to anything that is happening without being noticed.

Literal vs.

Figurative Meaning

The literal meaning of the idiom refers to something that is physically under the radar, such as an object or a person.

For example, “The small boat went under the radar of the larger ship.” In contrast, the figurative meaning of the idiom refers to something that is not getting attention or going unnoticed.

For example, “The new restaurant opened quietly and went under the radar of most food critics.”

Is “Under the Radar” Similar to “Feeling Under the Weather”?

“Under the radar” and “feeling under the weather” are often misunderstood.

The former refers to going unnoticed, while the latter means feeling unwell.

Despite the similar use of “under”, the phrases have distinct meanings.

It’s important to have a clear understanding of the “under the weather” phrase to avoid confusion.

Examples and Synonyms

Here are three example sentences that use the idiom “under the radar”:

  1. “The company’s unethical practices went under the radar of the authorities for years.”
  2. “The talented musician had been performing under the radar until a viral video brought her into the spotlight.”
  3. “The team’s star player was injured, but the coach kept it under the radar to avoid giving the opposing team an advantage.”

Some synonyms of “under the radar” include “unnoticed,” “unobserved,” and “unseen.”