undergird

verb un·der·gird \ ˌən-dər-ˈgərd \
Updated on: 18 Nov 2017

Definition of undergird

transitive verb
1 archaic : to make secure underneath
  • took measures to undergird the ship
  • —Acts 27:17 (Revised Standard Version)
2 : to form the basis or foundation of : strengthen, support
  • facts and statistics subtly undergird his commentary
  • —Susan Q. Stranahan

undergird was our Word of the Day on 11/12/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of undergird in a Sentence

  1. the theory of evolution undergirds virtually all of modern biology

Recent Examples of undergird from the Web

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

Did You Know?

The English verb gird means, among other things, "to encircle or bind with a flexible band." When undergird first entered English in the 16th century it meant "to make secure underneath," as by passing a rope or chain underneath something (such as a ship). That literal sense has long since fallen out of use, but in the 19th century undergird picked up the figurative "strengthen" or "support" sense that we still use. Gird and consequently undergird both derive from the Old English geard, meaning "enclosure" or "yard." Gird also gives us girder, a noun referring to a horizontal piece supporting a structure.

First Known Use of undergird

1526

undergird Synonyms

Synonyms
bear, bolster, brace, buttress, carry, prop (up), shore (up), stay, sustain, support, underpin, uphold
Related Words
steady, truss, underlie

UNDERGIRD Defined for English Language Learners

undergird

verb

Definition of undergird for English Language Learners

  • : to strengthen or support (something) from below



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of very fine texture or delicate form

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