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

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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

Go because this iteration purportedly subverts the male gazey stereotypes that usually surround the franchise. Emma Krupp, RedEye Chicago, "Your winter movie preview: 30 reasons to go to a show," 10 Jan. 2018 Since then, Yuskavage has built a body of similarly provocative work, drawing on classical European painterly techniques of portraiture to subvert and recast ideas about the female form. Thomas Gebremedhin, WSJ, "Lisa Yuskavage’s Art Continues to Defy Characterization," 6 Nov. 2018 And so the cop comedy, featuring one of the best ensemble casts currently on TV, just may survive another day to subvert more cop-show tropes and prove without a doubt that Andre Braugher is one of TV’s best all-round players. Matthew Gilbert,, "Fans don’t want to say goodbye to their TV friends on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’," 11 May 2018 Terry Crews seems to be devoting his career to subverting mainstream ideas about masculinity, and reminding men how limiting and often harmful the culturally accepted script of How to Be a Man really is. Jaya Saxena, GQ, "Terry Crews: “Masculinity Can Be a Cult”," 20 Apr. 2018 From its inception, the regime has sought to subvert Iran by transforming it from a nation into a cause. Reza Pahlavi, WSJ, "Iranians Want Our Country Back," 15 Aug. 2018 What was previously a genre painting depicting an ordinary scene from domestic life now gets subverted with a modern twist. Jane Levere, Smithsonian, "What Happens When Art History Gets Refigured," 9 May 2018 Undercover agents impersonated taxi drivers to subvert opposition to the ride-hailing app. Fortune, "Uber Ex-Manager Details Company's Alleged Surveillance Tactics," 16 Dec. 2017 Most onlookers would agree that some graffiti is meant to improve the condition of society, while some is meant to subvert it. Doug Maccash,, "Is this New Orleans' biggest graffiti tag ever?," 23 June 2017

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.

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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

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Statistics for subvert

Last Updated

24 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for subvert

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

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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

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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).


an act or instance of returning to life

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