subversion

noun
sub·​ver·​sion | \ səb-ˈvər-zhən How to pronounce subversion (audio) , -shən \

Definition of subversion

1 : the act of subverting : the state of being subverted especially : a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system by persons working secretly from within
2 obsolete : a cause of overthrow or destruction

Other Words from subversion

subversionary \ səb-​ˈvər-​zhə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce subversion (audio) , -​shə-​ \ adjective
subversive \ səb-​ˈvər-​siv How to pronounce subversion (audio) , -​ziv \ adjective or noun
subversively adverb
subversiveness noun

Did you know?

Subversion is literally the "turning over" of something. In the 1950s and '60s, many people worried about communist subversion of the U.S. government, though they often saw subversive activities where none existed. Nondemocratic governments often claim that anyone who disagrees with them or joins a demonstration is a subversive. But subversion isn't always quite so serious a matter; when words like weekend, sandwich, job, *and *camping started being used by the French, for example, some of them began claiming that America was subverting their language.

Examples of subversion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the other thing that is really cool is the subversion of that idea. André-naquian Wheeler, Vogue, 4 Aug. 2022 The subversion comes from the direction Tindle wanted to take this story. Nick Romano, EW.com, 2 Aug. 2022 The national security law was imposed on Hong Kong directly by China in June 2020 without any local legislative or consultative process, outlawing crimes such as subversion with possible life imprisonment. Reuters, NBC News, 28 July 2022 By contrast, Persuasion seems to think its best strength is its wild subversion of the author’s steady narration. David Sims, The Atlantic, 15 July 2022 Based on the comic arc by writer Jason Aaron, this is a fantastic subversion for Marvel, which so often casts great performers only to bog them down with thankless love interest roles. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 5 July 2022 Still, some modern wrestlers cultivated fan bases in the late 1990s and early 2000s by treating beer consumption as spectacle and performative subversion. New York Times, 24 June 2022 Kendall, who pretends to slurp up ironic subversion, insists on appearing as a guest on the show, but this bluff naturally ends in his own humiliation. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 June 2022 The January 6th attack on our Capitol was an insurrection against the U.S. Constitution and a subversion of the rule of law fueled by white supremacy and inspired by an outlaw president who should have been removed from office. Baltimore Sun, 18 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subversion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of subversion

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subversion

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin subversion-, subversio, from Latin subvertere

Learn More About subversion

Time Traveler for subversion

Time Traveler

The first known use of subversion was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near subversion

sub verbo

subversion

subversivism

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for subversion

Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subversion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subversion. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for subversion

subversion

noun
sub·​ver·​sion | \ səb-ˈvər-zhən How to pronounce subversion (audio) \

Legal Definition of subversion

: a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system by persons working from within also : the crime of committing acts in furtherance of such an attempt

Other Words from subversion

subversionary \ -​zhə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce subversion (audio) \ adjective
subversive \ -​ˈvər-​siv How to pronounce subversion (audio) \ adjective or noun
subversively adverb
subversiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on subversion

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subversion

Nglish: Translation of subversion for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!