The much more common expression is to "work under," but I saw "work underneath" in this Wikipedia article and for some reason it bothered me:

In return, the empress worked underneath her and received formal artistic training.

I know that some distinction between under and underneath can just come down to what sounds right to native English speakers as two words are extremely similar (talked about here on this site), but "underneath" does seem to be used more exclusively in a locational sense.

The site idioms.thefreedictionary.com has an entry for "work under" but not "work underneath." The Google tracker also puts the usage of "work underneath" basically always somewhere near zero. Is there a right and wrong answer or can two words be used interchangeably in this expression?


1 Answer 1


To work under someone (as say an apprentice) is more common but underneath is encountered and means the same:

underneath OED

In subordination or subjection to; under the power or control of.

As in:

1600 Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 2 iv. iii. 10 Til these rebels..Come vnderneath the yoke of gouernment.


I have five people working under/underneath me in the firm.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.