undermine

verb
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

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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. When we published the early results of our investigation, the British public learned for the first time of the Ring of Five’s betrayal. Philby’s attempts to undermine Western security, we found, had been constant and relentless, his access to our secrets apparently total. We homed in on two examples. The first was his job in charge of SIS’s anti-Soviet section. If the officer in charge of Britain’s anti-Soviet plans was a Soviet agent himself, how could any anti-Soviet operation succeed? —“Turning the Philby Case on Its Head” P. 51, Phillip Knightley, THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS Vol. LIV No. 7, April 26, 2007 Now they just have been getting beat. Weakened by injuries to center Steven Reinprecht and Mike Comrie and right wing Shane Doan, and undermined by erratic goaltending from Curtis Joseph, the Coyotes are, as one player said, “out of sync.” —“Hockey” P. 59, Michael Farber, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Vol. 105 No. 20, November 20, 2006 “ ‘…. Cluny returned by night, and with his band of rats gnawed away and undermined much of the wooden shoring. This caused the mine to collapse the next day, killing the owners.’” —“Chapter 7” The Wall P. 37, REDWALL, Brian Jacques, FIREBIRD Published by Penguin Group (1986) 2002 As bin Laden’s admirers appear to grow in number, the question is again being asked: Can the Saudi royals withstand the increasing pressures undermining political stability in the most vital energy-producing region of the world? —“The Uneasy Ally” P. 61, Scott MacLeod, TIME Vol. 158 No. 17, October 15, 2001 “It isn’t funny!” Mr. Weasley shouted. “That sort of behavior seriously undermines wizards-Muggle relations! I spend half my life campaigning against the mistreatment of Muggles, and my own sons —” —Chapter Five “Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes” p. 53, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, J. K. Rowling, Arthur A. Levine Books 2000 ... the "politically driven 'reformation'" of the American military over the past decade through a policy of integrating women completely. This policy, she says, has undermined readiness. —"Make War, Not Nice!" P. 12, Carol Gilligan, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, May 7, 2000 Having condemned scores of humble men and women, he denounced Count Henry of Sayn. Local Church and State leaders were horrified: inquisitors were supposed to underpin the social order not undermine it. An assembly at Mainz reversed Conrad’s decision but he insisted that it had no power to do so. His enemies wasted no more time on argument. Conrad and his party were attacked and murdered as they left the city. After this, the Inquisition was never accepted throughout most of Germany. —“Chapter Nine” P. 229, REFORMATIONS, Felipe Fernández-Armesto (Brit) & Derek Wilson (Brit), Scribner 270 F39r (1996) 1997
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Recent Examples on the Web

When the law is set up to protect all people regardless of their demographic, these kinds of bad-faith actors are able to twist laws designed to help correct imbalances to try to undermine their existence. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "A men’s rights activist sued a women’s beer event," 24 Oct. 2018 Junk insurance Opponents of the ACA have tried to undermine coverage for health care services women need, such as maternity care, birth control, and behavioral health services. Stephanie Glover, STAT, "We need another July 4 uprising to protect women’s health," 6 July 2018 The network launched an internal investigation, during which the Times claims that CBS' chief compliance officer Mark Engstrom submitted footage of Dushku cursing on set, purportedly to undermine her complaints. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "CBS Confirms It Paid Actress Eliza Dushku $9.5 Million to Settle Harassment Claims," 15 Dec. 2018 The agency’s chairman, Joe Simons, has said the question of whether tech giants such as Facebook, Amazon.com (amzn, +1.25%), and Alphabet‘s Google (googl, +1.20%) are undermining competition will be a priority of the hearings. Fortune, "The Biggest Communications Union in the U.S. Is Calling for the FTC to Break Up Facebook," 9 July 2018 The cruel elitism of our current political moment undermines the rights of all Floridians. miamiherald, "Leigh-Ann Buchanan," 30 June 2018 The state economy has been undermined by slow employment gains. Stephen Singer, courant.com, "State: Retail, Financial Services Helped Boost Connecticut Job Growth In May," 14 June 2018 The European Union and China have reportedly formed an alliance to combat any measure taken by the U.S. that could undermine the Paris agreement, and other nations have renewed their commitment to battling climate change. Susmita Baral, Teen Vogue, "Trump and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Explained," 2 Aug. 2018 Coats’ comments came hours after the Justice Department indicted a dozen Russian military intelligence officers for attempting to undermine the 2016 election in part by hacking into the Democratic National Committee. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, "Unlike Trump, Dan Coats doesn't shy from calling out Russia," 13 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of undermine

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for undermine

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

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More Definitions for undermine

undermine

verb

English Language Learners Definition of undermine

: to make (someone or something) weaker or less effective usually in a secret or gradual way

undermine

verb
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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