sub·​vert | \ səb-ˈvərt \
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

At 18, Sally considers going off to Chicago to become a novitiate, so as to subvert her mother’s more conventional plans for her. Helen Klein Ross, WSJ, "Five Best: Helen Klein Ross on Multigenerational Sagas," 1 Nov. 2018 To bring in a politician risks subverting our gospel purposes to the purposes of that politician’s party. Jonathan Leeman, Washington Post, "Why the Southern Baptist Convention shouldn’t have allowed Mike Pence to speak," 14 June 2018 Judy Chicago, an iconic American artist, is known for her contributions to the 1970s feminist art movement and for subverting male art and design crafts such as boat and car building and pyrotechnics. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "Renowned Feminist Artist Judy Chicago and Max Mara Release a Limited Edition T-Shirt," 4 Dec. 2018 But the populists who did well in the election also say euro membership has subverted Italy’s sovereignty — an increasingly resonant theme in the country. New York Times, "Why Italy’s Political Turmoil Is Causing Financial Angst Elsewhere," 29 May 2018 The sanctions target more than 50 Venezuelan officials and businesses that Washington says are subverting the democratic process. Tracy Wilkinson,, "Tillerson leaves on mission to improve relations with Latin America," 31 Jan. 2018 With the genre setting audience expectations, the filmmakers can then explore their own ideas and themes, or even subvert those expectations for an entirely different result. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House is like This Is Us wrapped in a gothic ghost story," 28 Sep. 2018 From the start, showrunner Mike Schur has been perfecting the art of subverting expectations and throwing curveballs into the story at a rate that would cripple pretty much any other show. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "4 TV shows to check out, from The Good Place to Lil Rel Howery’s new show," 27 Sep. 2018 But using language to subvert societal expectations is just one way Mona is working to empower women to find their voices. Amanda Randone, Teen Vogue, "This Woman Is Giving a Voice to Muslims in the #MeToo Movement," 26 June 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

10 Feb 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).


the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
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!