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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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 That regime would, in turn, undergird a decades-spanning run of political domination for the party. Sam Rosenfeld, The New Republic, 15 Feb. 2022 The modern Lettermans, by contrast—the Web3 skeptics—say the cryptocurrencies that undergird this new version of the internet are, at worst, a wasteful scam and an ecological nightmare. Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic, 5 Feb. 2022 Entanglement, then, may undergird the structure of space itself, forming the warp and weft that give rise to the geometry of the world. Adam Becker, Scientific American, 20 Jan. 2022 Smita, who covers gender issues, wants to make clear such actions are enabled by the powerful forces and institutions that undergird them. Anri Wheeler, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Dec. 2021 Despite his celebrity, Mr. Rasmussen spent his second stint as mayor, from 2009 to 2015, with his head down, focused on the sort of issues that undergird most of life in small-town America. Clay Risen, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Dec. 2021 Dawejko calls Tomlinson an engineering and technology company, because of the high-tech systems that undergird the business, but what Tomlinson sells is food. Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2021 Like the steel beams that undergird our bridges, the crucial work of our state’s nonprofits is so integral to the health and well-being of our communities that it can easily be overlooked. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Oct. 2021 Government officials speak with similar confidence about the role of wind power and its renewable cousin, solar, in powering a low-emissions electric grid that could undergird an electric vehicle future. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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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Cite this Entry

“Undergird.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undergird. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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