un·​der·​mine | \ ˌən-dər-ˈmīn How to pronounce undermine (audio) , ˈən-dər-ˌmīn \
undermined; undermining; undermines

Definition of undermine

transitive verb

1 : to subvert or weaken insidiously or secretly trying to undermine his political rivals
2 : to weaken or ruin by degrees
3 : to wash away supporting material from under
4 : to excavate the earth beneath : form a mine under : sap

Choose the Right Synonym for undermine

weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, cripple, disable mean to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor. weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power. a disease that weakens the body's defenses enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness. enfeebled by starvation debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality. the debilitating effects of surgery undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously. a poor diet undermines your health drugs had sapped his ability to think cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element. crippled by arthritis disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability. disabled by an injury sustained at work

Examples of undermine in a Sentence

She tried to undermine my authority by complaining about me to my boss. The events of the past year have undermined people's confidence in the government.
Recent Examples on the Web Runaway inflation in the 1930s and 1940s helped undermine the ruling Nationalist government and open the door to the Communist Party’s takeover. Stella Yifan Xie, WSJ, 8 May 2022 But in the American constitutional system, no one person—not even a president—should be able to undermine our institutions and jeopardize our democracy. Ira Shapiro, The New Republic, 6 May 2022 Dissident networks flared up after the invasion to help undermine the Russian war effort. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 Netanyahu, now the opposition leader, has worked hard to undermine the coalition. Josef Federman, ajc, 28 Apr. 2022 Western leaders and analysts portrayed the move by Russia as a bid to divide the Western allies and undermine their unity in support of Ukraine. BostonGlobe.com, 27 Apr. 2022 Western leaders and analysts portrayed the move by Russia as a bid to divide the Western allies and undermine their unity in support of Ukraine. The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr. 2022 This approach risks acting without evidence and making assumptions about people and teams, which can ultimately undermine the long-term success of agility. Andrea Fryrear, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 And Poland and the other frontline states bordering Russia have never had much confidence in Mr. Macron’s goal of strategic autonomy or his promise to do nothing to undermine NATO, a feeling underscored by the current war. New York Times, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'undermine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of undermine

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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The first known use of undermine was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Undermine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undermine. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for undermine


un·​der·​mine | \ ˌən-dər-ˈmīn How to pronounce undermine (audio) \
undermined; undermining

Kids Definition of undermine

1 : to dig out or wear away the supporting earth beneath Erosion undermined the wall.
2 : to weaken secretly or little by little Their criticisms undermine my confidence.


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