un·​der·​gird | \ˌən-dər-ˈgərd \
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

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 As a maker of the equipment that undergirds cellular networks, the company plays a crucial role in China’s innovation drive and its push to influence technology outside its borders. New York Times, "In About-Face on Trade, Trump Vows to Protect ZTE Jobs in China," 13 May 2018 But Chinese actions may also undergird the operations of the IMF, reinforcing and enhancing the existing international financial architecture. Daniel Mcdowell, Washington Post, "Beijing is taking on a broader financial role. Here’s why that matters.," 14 June 2018 One key area of inquiry for the ICO is Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre, where the methodology that undergirds Cambridge Analytica’s approach to data targeting originated. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "UK Regulators May Fine Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica," 10 July 2018 In order to secure a better future for North Carolina, our leaders must protect the independence of the judiciary and strengthen the justice delivery system that undergirds the safety, security and stability of our state. charlotteobserver, "Ashley Christensen," 3 July 2018 More important, there is no indication that Beijing is preparing to compromise on the policies, such as financial support for local players and assistance in buying overseas competitors, that undergird the modernization plan. New York Times, "As Trade Fight Looms, China Turns Censors on Its Own Policies," 26 June 2018 In other words, the legal standards that undergird the Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities — standards that Trump administration officials brag are among the highest in the world — would be wiped away. Dara Lind, Vox, "Flores agreement: Trump’s executive order to end family separation might run afoul of a 1997 court ruling," 20 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

28 Sep 2018

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The first known use of undergird was in 1526

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English Language Learners Definition of undergird

: to strengthen or support (something) from below

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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