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

Vibrio vulnificus infections can lead to the development of necrotizing fasciitis, especially in patients with underlying health issues. Fox News, "Texas man dies days after contracting flesh-eating bacteria during Fourth of July beach trip, wife says," 17 July 2019 The underlying issue often gets lost in the cacophony of concern that's emerged from the business community over Trump's reliance on tariffs as a way to force Beijing's hand. Dallas News, "Castro rises in poll, outrage over Texas immigration detention centers grows, new Dallas voting plan," 4 July 2019 The underlying issue is now before the Supreme Court. Chris Strohm, Fortune, "House Panel Votes to Hold Barr, Ross in Contempt of Congress: What Happens Now," 13 June 2019 Medication may also be prescribed for any underlying conditions, such as anxiety or depression. Jancee Dunn, Vogue, "Is Othorexia the Eating Disorder for the Digital Age?," 14 Dec. 2018 In fact, the whole collaboration has one major, underlying theme: Strong women and girls. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Dormify Collaborates with ArtSugar on Collection Benefiting Girls Who Code," 22 July 2018 While Gay Men Don't Get Fat is primarily a humor book, Simon insists that some of the underlying themes are quite serious. Alyssa Vingan, Marie Claire, "Gay Men Don't Get Fat," 6 Jan. 2012 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

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

19 Jul 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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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