Definition of underlie
- ideas underlying the revolution
A tile floor underlies the rug.
The river is underlain by limestone.
We discussed the principles that underlay their methods.
A theme of revenge underlies much of her writing.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'underlie.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
before 12th century
: to lie or be located under (something)
: to form the basis or foundation of (an idea, a process, etc.)
What made you want to look up underlie? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ