undergird

verb
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

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 Only a youth orchestra undergirded by strong programs of instrumental pedagogy could have done justice to so difficult and demanding an opus. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "MusicNOW's resident composers wrap up their tenure with well-received parting gifts," 22 May 2018 Within the United States, Romans 13 was used to undergird the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which required U.S. citizens to return individuals who had escaped from enslavement to their owners. Laura Nasrallah, Washington Post, "What Jeff Sessions got wrong when quoting the Bible," 15 June 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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Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for undergird

The first known use of undergird was in 1526

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More Definitions for undergird

undergird

verb

English Language Learners Definition of undergird

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

More from Merriam-Webster on undergird

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