un·​der·​ly·​ing | \ ˌən-dər-ˈlī-iŋ How to pronounce underlying (audio) \

Definition of underlying

1a : lying beneath or below the underlying rock is shale
b : basic, fundamental an investigation of the underlying issues
2 : evident only on close inspection : implicit
3 : anterior and prior in claim underlying mortgage
4 : of or being present in deep structure underlying word order

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Examples of underlying in a Sentence

the ocean and the underlying rock the underlying differences between democracy and dictatorship

Recent Examples on the Web

Photo composite: Dom Amatore for The Wall Street Journal U.S. consumer prices rose more than usual in March, driven by an increase in volatile oil prices that masked moderate underlying price pressures. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Inflation Stayed Tame in March," 10 Apr. 2019 Prior to that, Spyglass had brokered a deal with the University of Illinois to license Mosaic and its underlying technology, created at the university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Later, Navigator: How Netscape Won and Then Lost the World Wide Web," 4 Apr. 2019 Certain underlying factors, such health conditions like diabetes, can also cause excessive sweating. Korin Miller, SELF, "What to Do if You’re Extremely Sweaty in the General Vicinity of Your Vagina," 3 Apr. 2019 So let Optus’s struggles stand as a cautionary tale, because some of the underlying factors look eerily similar. Jacob Feldman, SI.com, "Inside Australia's World Cup 2018 Streaming Fail and What It Means for the U.S.," 21 June 2018 The underlying factor is they’re afraid of the President. Sam Farmer, latimes.com, "Since players weren't consulted on NFL's anthem rule, for them it raises a red, white and blue flag," 30 May 2018 Often when an athlete does suffer heat illness, there turn out to be other underlying factors at play—a recent viral infection, the use of certain drugs like amphetamines, poor clothing choices, and so on. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "The Psychological Side of Heat Exhaustion," 23 Apr. 2018 Matt Bennett, aka Robbie Shapiro from Victorious, made this clever joke on Twitter, but the underlying truth is Nickelodeon actors get slimed fairly often. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "14 Outrageous Facts About Nickelodeon Slime," 10 Dec. 2018 The evaluation is designed to pinpoint the underlying mechanisms that Bredesen believes are the root causes behind cognitive decline. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018

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

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for underlying

Last Updated

26 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for underlying

The first known use of underlying was in 1611

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More Definitions for underlying



English Language Learners Definition of underlying

used to identify the idea, cause, problem, etc., that forms the basis of something
: lying under or below something


un·​der·​ly·​ing | \ -ˌlī-iŋ How to pronounce underlying (audio) \

Medical Definition of underlying

: serving as a basis or cause (as of secondary symptoms) the underlying brain malformation that caused the hydrocephalus— R. M. Henig

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Comments on underlying

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


one that collects or salvages junk

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