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 no such danger in the movie, which offers some of the stories’ more gruesome elements but, by framing them skillfully, moralizes their fabrications by undergirding them with (fictitious) facts. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Mild Horror of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”," 12 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, there is also the possibility of attacking the residential segregation that undergirds school segregation directly. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Democratic candidates’ school integration plans, explained," 3 July 2019 Their reluctance to speak highlights the tensions that undergird public discussion around the Amin regime today. Richard Vokes, Quartz Africa, "A recently discovered trove of photos shows life in Uganda during Idi Amin’s troubled reign," 30 June 2019 Mary Louise, who injects some welcome frisson into the women’s dynamics, also inadvertently vocalizes the tensions that undergirded Celeste and Perry’s outwardly perfect relationship. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Ponders What Makes a Man," 10 June 2019 Their reluctance to speak highlights the tensions that undergird public discussion around the Amin regime today. Richard Vokes, Quartz Africa, "A recently discovered trove of photos shows life in Uganda during Idi Amin’s troubled reign," 30 June 2019 Their reluctance to speak highlights the tensions that undergird public discussion around the Amin regime today. Richard Vokes, Quartz Africa, "A recently discovered trove of photos shows life in Uganda during Idi Amin’s troubled reign," 30 June 2019 Their reluctance to speak highlights the tensions that undergird public discussion around the Amin regime today. Richard Vokes, Quartz Africa, "A recently discovered trove of photos shows life in Uganda during Idi Amin’s troubled reign," 30 June 2019 Finally, this effort would give President Trump a spectacular opportunity to perform as a statesman, exercise his diplomatic skills, and undergird them with both U.S. power and that of our allies — from Europe to Asia. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Trump Should Assemble a Multinational Naval Convoy," 28 June 2019

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

17 Aug 2019

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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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