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 The objects in a museum reflect the beliefs undergirding our culture. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "With new exhibit, Chicago artist builds upon the history of Boston’s black community," 5 Sep. 2019 These trends, of course, exist in much of Europe as well, but in Europe two other factors undergirding democratic decay should also be mentioned. Sheri Berman, Washington Post, "Populists have one big thing right: Democracies are becoming less open," 8 Jan. 2018 This debate over whether the NFL is a single entity or a collection of 32 teams would persist for decades, undergirding everything from free agency to licensing deals. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "How the Influence of Al Davis Shaped the Modern NFL," 27 Aug. 2019 The painters hired during the Great Depression, and their Latino counterparts—following the lead of Diego Rivera, a Mexican muralist—celebrated the workers who undergird the American Dream. A.c. | San Francisco, The Economist, "The social and political mural goes digital," 5 Aug. 2019 The latest wave of xenophobic attacks is undergirded by the belief that foreigners—mainly migrants from other African countries—are to blame for South Africa’s social and economic woes. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "These charts show migrants aren’t South Africa’s biggest problem," 13 Sep. 2019 Davis's states' rights philosophy would undergird the Cowboys' commercial wars with the NFL and the Patriots' us-against-the-league ethos. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "How the Influence of Al Davis Shaped the Modern NFL," 27 Aug. 2019 According to Raich, yoga class guidelines are undergirded by the concept of ahimsa, one of the five yamas, or moral values, of yoga. The Washington Post, The Know, "The 12 dos and don’ts of yoga class," 7 Sep. 2019 The assumptions that have undergirded the West’s relationship with mainland China for the past 25 years were wrong, and have contributed to his recent sleepless nights. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Hong Kong Understands the Uncommon Value of the Common Law," 31 July 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

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for undergird

The first known use of undergird was in 1526

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More Definitions for undergird


How to pronounce undergird (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of undergird

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with undergird

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