un·​der·​ly·​ing ˌən-dər-ˈlī-iŋ How to pronounce underlying (audio)
: lying beneath or below
the underlying rock is shale
: basic, fundamental
an investigation of the underlying issues
: evident only on close inspection : implicit
: anterior and prior in claim
underlying mortgage
: of or being present in deep structure
underlying word order

Examples of underlying in a Sentence

the ocean and the underlying rock the underlying differences between democracy and dictatorship
Recent Examples on the Web Harbour’s Hopper is known for both his gruff personality and an underlying tenderness that endears him to audiences. Jaden Thompson, Variety, 10 Nov. 2023 There are other options available that could be more affordable while still addressing the underlying issue of erectile dysfunction. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 5 Nov. 2023 Rather than replacing the specific communicative expression of the initial work, the model is capable of creating a wide variety of different sort of outputs wholly unrelated to that underlying, copyrightable expression. Wes Davis, The Verge, 4 Nov. 2023 While some of the justices were less convinced by this argument, there was also some openness to the challengers' request to hold future hearings to consider the obscure constitutional questions behind the underlying case arguments. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, 2 Nov. 2023 Early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause help alleviate symptoms and prevent possible flares.21 Research has found that lip swelling due to COVID resolves within three days with medication. Korin Miller, Health, 31 Oct. 2023 Accessibility and Sustainability Sustainability is an underlying goal in all of The Wall Street Hotel’s operations, from construction and design that used reclaimed native materials, to daily efforts to minimize use of non-renewable resources and carefully manage waste and water. Nina Ruggiero, Travel + Leisure, 30 Oct. 2023 In older people with underlying conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or heart disease — there is a risk of RSV exacerbating their pre-existing conditions. Allison Futterman, Discover Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 Pregnancy complications are now more prevalent, as more women begin pregnancies with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Compiled By Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 2 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'underlying.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of underlying was in 1611

Dictionary Entries Near underlying

Cite this Entry

“Underlying.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/underlying. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​der·​ly·​ing ˌən-dər-ˌlī-iŋ How to pronounce underlying (audio)
: lying under or below
the underlying rock

Medical Definition


un·​der·​ly·​ing -ˌlī-iŋ How to pronounce underlying (audio)
: serving as a basis or cause (as of secondary symptoms)
the underlying brain malformation that caused the hydrocephalusR. M. Henig

More from Merriam-Webster on underlying

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