un·​der·​lay | \ˌən-dər-ˈlā \
underlaid\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈlād \; underlaying

Definition of underlay 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cover, line, or traverse the bottom of : give support to on the underside or below

2 : to raise or support by something laid under


un·​der·​lay | \ˈən-dər-ˌlā \

Definition of underlay (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is or is designed to be laid under

Examples of underlay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When the South was a vast archipelago of human bondage and labor camps, racist ideology took the form of a widespread belief in black inferiority and underlay the forceful defenses of slavery. Jamelle Bouie, Slate Magazine, "Government by White Nationalism Is Upon Us," 6 Feb. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Last year when attorney Princess Ariana married Prince Yoel of Ethiopia, the bride wore a sleeveless gown, with an embroidered bodice that featured a lace underlay, low-cut back design, and long layered tulle skirt. Amira Rasool, Teen Vogue, "Meghan Markle's Royal Wedding Dress Could Make a Feminist Statement," 18 May 2018 It was made from compressed, recycled textiles: a repurposing of carpet underlay or utilitarian insulation material. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The 7 Best Collections from Milan Fashion Week," 26 Feb. 2018 See-through styles with nude underlays were featured during the two-day runway showcase in addition booths including The Princess Bridal, Impression Bridal, and Ventura's Bridal Fashion. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "#HoustonStrong, rose gold, and the royal wedding rule 2018 Bridal Extravaganza Show," 8 Jan. 2018 At 484 square feet, standard rooms are among Hong Kong’s largest, with subtle Oriental touches, extra-wide plasma televisions and Four Seasons essentials like the sheepskin underlay bed. Condé Nast Traveler, "Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong," 20 Oct. 2017 And the classic shoe construction of overlays and underlays offered Ryo-san a lot of opportunities to apply his knowledge about material usage and construction. Jonathan Evans, Esquire, "How This Truly Exceptional Adidas Collaboration Came Together," 1 Sep. 2017 Simply prep the floor, put down the underlay, cut the pieces to fit and click them together. Tim Woodward, idahostatesman, "Home improvement project got you down? Cheer up. This one was probably worse.," 14 July 2017 A Democratic alternative would start with the same recognition that underlay Obama’s negotiations with Iran: Convincing adversaries to curb their military arsenals requires making America not more threatening, but less so. Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, "Why Won't the Democrats Challenge Trump on North Korea?," 6 July 2017 Against the swirling underlay of the rhythm section, and the color-morphing canvas of Mr. Formanek’s arrangements, several soloists left lasting impressions. Nate Chinen, New York Times, "Review: Delivering a Touch of Big Band Through a Jazz Collective," 24 Mar. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'underlay.' 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 underlay


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for underlay

The first known use of underlay was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of underlay

: a layer of material that is placed under something else (such as a carpet)

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Comments on underlay

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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