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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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.

Examples of undergird in a Sentence

the theory of evolution undergirds virtually all of modern biology

Recent Examples on the Web

Michael, this argument about abolish ICE, which undergirds what Nancy's talking about here, it's exploded across the country. Fox News, "Media downplay Trump administration's economic successes," 28 July 2018 This is astonishing support in countries that have suffered so much to keep the currency, and it is mirrored by strong support in countries whose beleaguered taxpayers undergird the union. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Euro’s Next 20 Years," 30 Dec. 2018 There's already a robust network of local police forces using the technology, not to mention a for-profit industry undergirding its use. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "That Radar Speed Road Sign Might Be Saving Your License Plate for Later," 1 Oct. 2018 In his latest book, the prolific Simon Winchester explores the idea and practice of precision, the concept undergirding everything from a factory’s assembly line to the scientist’s measurement of time and space. Kate Tuttle, BostonGlobe.com, "A fan of perfection that’s not too perfect," 2 May 2018 Whatever holds us together now must be undergirded, expanded. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Republicans Need to Save Capitalism," 14 Feb. 2019 The third factor undergirding sturdy alliances is mutually beneficial transactional ties. Karen Elliott House, WSJ, "Rethinking Saudi Arabia," 30 Nov. 2018 The technology that undergirds Wi-Fi has improved over the years, and older routers and gadgets are simply incapable of dishing out or receiving the fastest signals on the market. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "How to Test Your Wi-Fi Speed," 15 Oct. 2018 Curiously enough, the author’s lingering ambivalence about Fascism (in time replaced by out-and-out sympathy for its opponents) undergirds the power of this fascinating book. Dan Hofstadter, WSJ, "‘A Chill in the Air’ Review: A Tuscan Idyll Before the War," 30 Aug. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of undergird

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for undergird

Last Updated

25 May 2019

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Time Traveler for undergird

The first known use of undergird was in 1526

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English Language Learners Definition of undergird

chiefly US : to strengthen or support (something) from below

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Comments on undergird

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


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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