un·​der·​gird | \ ˌən-dər-ˈgərd How to pronounce undergird (audio) \
undergirded; undergirding; undergirds

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

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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.

Examples of undergird in a Sentence

the theory of evolution undergirds virtually all of modern biology
Recent Examples on the Web The bill comes after the Social Security Administration announced the fund that pays benefits for millions of Americans could encounter shortfalls as soon as 2035 if nothing is done to undergird the program. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, 6 July 2022 Subtle jazz influences, adroitly illuminated by Mr. Noseda and the NSO, are evident in walking bass-style segments that undergird little percussive outbursts. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, 21 June 2022 As Thymia’s technical co-founder, Goria leads the charge in developing the AI systems that undergird the company’s end-to-end solution to empower clinicians. Aparna Dhinakaran, Forbes, 9 June 2022 Institutions may look the same, but the values, norms and freedoms that undergird them have worn away. Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2022 That regime would, in turn, undergird a decades-spanning run of political domination for the party. Sam Rosenfeld, The New Republic, 15 Feb. 2022 The modern Lettermans, by contrast—the Web3 skeptics—say the cryptocurrencies that undergird this new version of the internet are, at worst, a wasteful scam and an ecological nightmare. Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic, 5 Feb. 2022 Entanglement, then, may undergird the structure of space itself, forming the warp and weft that give rise to the geometry of the world. Adam Becker, Scientific American, 20 Jan. 2022 Smita, who covers gender issues, wants to make clear such actions are enabled by the powerful forces and institutions that undergird them. Anri Wheeler, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of undergird

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of undergird was in 1526

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

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

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