sub·​vert | \ səb-ˈvərt How to pronounce subvert (audio) \
subverted; subverting; subverts

Definition of subvert

transitive verb

1 : to overturn or overthrow from the foundation : ruin
2 : to pervert or corrupt by an undermining of morals, allegiance, or faith

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from subvert

subverter noun

Examples of subvert in a Sentence

They conspired to subvert the government. trying to subvert the electoral process

Recent Examples on the Web

The three could work together to subvert any opposition in the Roman Senate. Andrea Frediani, National Geographic, "Money was not enough for Crassus, the richest man in Rome," 11 June 2019 Golden State won’t be able to afford even a single poor showing; bouncing back from a 3-1 deficit requires a team to overcome the natural ebbs and flows of a series, subverting probabilities in the process. Rob Mahoney,, "Kevin Durant Is All That Separates the Warriors From Survival and Defeat," 10 June 2019 In fact, the rising visionary makeup artist has made a career of subverting the ordinary—and extraordinary. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Gucci’s New Global Makeup Artist Just Released a Mesmerizing Beauty Book," 23 May 2019 The country could see increased attacks on the court’s authority, including attempts at subverting partisan rulings, demands that the court’s ability to decide certain issues be stripped, and calls for term limits or even retention elections. Brandon Bartels, Washington Post, "It took conservatives 50 years to get a reliable majority on the Supreme Court. Here are 3 reasons why.," 29 June 2018 So many of the exploitation films she’s subverting are focused on the grim objective of killing people off, as if those boxes being checked are enough to rebalance the scales. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Revenge Is a Shocking and Subversive Piece of Horror," 9 May 2018 In the 20th century, designers and entertainers took to subverting religious themes. Cara Kelly, USA TODAY, "The 2018 Met Gala red carpet could have been an unholy mess. Instead it was a revelation.," 8 May 2018 With its circular sleeves and oversize metal belt, the Olivier Rousteing design was far from the standard little black dress, but Rae and her stylist Jason Rembert have always been eager to subvert norms. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Issa Rae Joins the Balmain Army in Spectacular Fashion," 9 Apr. 2019 Projects that nominally attempt to subvert this image (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane or, more recently, London Fields) were strictly indie fare. Vanessa Chow, Glamour, "Amber Heard Is Nobody’s Victim," 27 Nov. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of subvert

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subvert

Middle English, from Anglo-French subvertir, from Latin subvertere, literally, to turn from beneath, from sub- + vertere to turn — more at worth

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subvert

Statistics for subvert

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subvert

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for subvert



English Language Learners Definition of subvert

: to secretly try to ruin or destroy a government, political system, etc.
: to make (something) weaker or less effective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on subvert

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subvert

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subvert

Spanish Central: Translation of subvert

Nglish: Translation of subvert for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subvert for Arabic Speakers

Comments on subvert

What made you want to look up subvert? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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