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 It’s about protecting the economy and the people who undergird it. WSJ, "Financial Regulators Versus Climate Change," 22 Dec. 2020 Instead, according to Inam, three fundamental pillars should undergird any use of A.I. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Could “Mindful A.I.” be the key to successful A.I.?," 22 Sep. 2020 The questions that undergird these principles are rooted in the complexity of managing a corporation today. Judith Samuelson, Quartz, "The ghost of Milton Friedman will haunt the markets until companies fix CEO pay," 16 Sep. 2020 What happened to the conservative principles that used to undergird the party for decades? CNN, "Opinion: The Republican Party has a tough choice to make," 21 Aug. 2020 There is much to praise in the report, which properly grounds its conception of human rights in the natural-law principles that undergird the American Founding. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, "The U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights Sidesteps Abortion," 19 Aug. 2020 That shift in thinking, Mina argues, should undergird a shift in our national strategy. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The Way Out," 14 Aug. 2020 But having those difficult conversations that undergird the activists that led to the toppling? Chris Joyner, ajc, "As monuments tumble, are we ‘erasing’ history? Historians say no," 12 July 2020 Cooder also offered a tribute to another key player in the Cash universe: Luther Perkins, whose tick-tock guitar rhythms undergirded countless classic songs. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "Review: Rosanne Cash and Ry Cooder put fresh twist on Johnny Cash songs at Chicago Theatre," 19 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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The first known use of undergird was in 1526

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Last Updated

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undergird.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undergird. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce undergird (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of undergird

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

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