Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More

November 12, 2013

Word of the Day

  • undergird
  • audio pronunciation
  • \un-der-GERD\
  • DEFINITION

verb

: to form the basis or foundation of : strengthen, support
  • EXAMPLES

"High school students need to understand the paradigms and traditions that undergird social and political institutions." — From a lesson plan at CNNfyi.com, July 3, 2001

"No one argues that a robust U.S. economy is needed to undergird an effective foreign policy." — From an editorial by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, October 9, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

The English verb "gird" means, among other things, "to encircle or bind with a flexible band." When "undergird" first entered English in the 16th century it meant "to make secure underneath," as by passing a rope or chain underneath something (such as a ship). That literal sense has long since fallen out of use, but in the 19th century "undergird" picked up the figurative "strengthen" or "support" sense that we still use. "Gird" and consequently "undergird" both derive from the Old English "geard," meaning "enclosure" or "yard." "Gird" also gives us "girder," a noun referring to a horizontal piece supporting a structure.

Test Your Memory: What former Word of the Day begins with "c" and means "a steep mountainside gorge"? The answer is …

  • MORE WORDS OF THE DAY

Visit our archives to see previous selections ยป

  • FEATURED ITEM FROM OUR STORE

An expressive t-shirt:

"Use Your Words"

Browse all items »

  • PODCAST

Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

  • SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe to the Word of the Day e-mail

Manage Your Account