sabotage

1 of 2

noun

sab·​o·​tage ˈsa-bə-ˌtäzh How to pronounce sabotage (audio)
1
: destruction of an employer's property (such as tools or materials) or the hindering of manufacturing by discontented workers
2
: destructive or obstructive action carried on by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation's war effort
3
a
: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt
b
: deliberate subversion

sabotage

2 of 2

verb

sabotaged; sabotaging

transitive verb

: to practice sabotage on

Examples of sabotage in a Sentence

Noun Angry workers were responsible for the sabotage of the machines. Officials have not yet ruled out sabotage as a possible cause of the crash. Verb They sabotaged the enemy's oil fields. The airplane crashed because it was sabotaged. The lawyer is trying to sabotage the case by creating confusion. The deal was sabotaged by an angry employee.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The local law criminalizes treason, insurrection, theft of state secrets and espionage, sabotage endangering national security, and external interference. Jennifer Jett, NBC News, 20 Mar. 2024 The meetings are intended to help other nations promote best civil society practices and defend against political sabotage. Michael Crowley, New York Times, 18 Mar. 2024 Whether meant as a joke or an attempt at sabotage, it unnerved staff. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Mar. 2024 While blatant sabotage explains the current immigration impasse, however, there’s something else lurking behind it: Trump and those around him are profoundly hostile to immigration in general. Paul Krugman, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 Their novel is based on the true story of Britain’s first female sabotage agent. Dan Kelly, Kansas City Star, 24 Mar. 2024 Treason, insurrection and some forms of sabotage are punishable by life imprisonment. Jennifer Jett, NBC News, 20 Mar. 2024 Tina Fey's sharp and endlessly quotable screenplay perfectly captured the shifting day-to-day dynamics of the high school scene, fueled by nasty rumors and social sabotage. Danny Horn, EW.com, 12 Jan. 2024 Though an investigation into the episode is still underway, many security experts suspect sabotage. Johanna Lemola, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024
Verb
Ultimately, Scott argues that those three years of code changes and polite emails were likely not spent sabotaging multiple software projects, but rather building up a history of credibility in preparation for the sabotage of XZ Utils specifically—and potentially other projects in the future. Andy Greenberg and Matt Burgess, WIRED, 3 Apr. 2024 What’s different now is his open alliance with Republican states that are willing to sabotage the federal government at his behest. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 31 Mar. 2024 His obsession with success sabotaged relationships. Steve Martin, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2024 The accusations of election fraud weren’t just anonymous, however: In 2022, Lake accused Richer of sabotaging her campaign for governor by incorrectly printing 300,000 ballots that were subsequently discounted. David Gilbert, WIRED, 19 Mar. 2024 But here’s the paradox: Instead of getting more control over our days, bedtime procrastinators end up sabotaging them. TIME, 18 Mar. 2024 The armed attack at the port came days after the gangs sabotaged the terminal’s power plant, cutting off its electricity and potentially causing crucial fresh food products to spoil, Coles said. Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2024 The second chance reveals the first chance to have been an opportunity missed, or sabotaged, or simply unacknowledged, and suggests that a life—like a play—is the kind of thing that can be rehearsed. Frederick Kaufman, Harper's Magazine, 26 Feb. 2024 Some types of gossip seemed designed to sabotage the home-front war effort. Greg Daugherty, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sabotage.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

French, from saboter to clatter with sabots, botch, sabotage, from sabot

First Known Use

Noun

1910, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1913, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sabotage was in 1910

Dictionary Entries Near sabotage

Cite this Entry

“Sabotage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sabotage. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

sabotage

1 of 2 noun
sab·​o·​tage ˈsab-ə-ˌtäzh How to pronounce sabotage (audio)
1
: destruction of an employer's property or the action of making it difficult to work by discontented workers
2
: destructive or blocking action carried on by enemy agents or sympathizers to make a nation's war effort more difficult

sabotage

2 of 2 verb
sabotaged; sabotaging
: to practice sabotage on : wreck
Etymology

Noun

from French sabotage "destruction of property to hinder a manufacturing or war effort," from saboter "to clatter around wearing sabots, botch," from sabot "a wooden shoe"

Word Origin
Because the word sabotage appears related to French sabot, "wooden shoe," some people have thought that in the first cases of sabotage in France, industrial workers must have thrown their sabots into machinery in order to damage it. In fact, there is no evidence for such an etymology. The French verb saboter is known in the sense "to damage an employer's property" in the early 1900s but this meaning is perhaps based on an earlier sense "to carry out clumsily, botch, bungle," first attested in 1808. This meaning is in turn usually explained as proceeding from a yet older sense, "to make a clattering noise with sabots," on the premise that walking with wooden shoes suggests clumsy performance. It is hard to know if these diverse meanings are a single line of development, or if the associations evoked in Frenchmen by this piece of peasant footwear brought about episodes of verb creation from the same noun.

Legal Definition

sabotage

noun
sab·​o·​tage ˈsa-bə-ˌtäzh How to pronounce sabotage (audio)
1
: the willful destruction of an employer's property or the hindering of normal operations by other means
2
: the injury, destruction, or knowingly defective production of materials, premises, or utilities used for war or national defense compare criminal syndicalism, sedition
Etymology

Noun

French, from saboter to clatter with wooden shoes, botch, sabotage, from sabot wooden shoe

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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