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.
Recent Examples on the Web All of these unchecked practices undermine civil rights. Justin Sherman, Wired, "Data Brokers Are a Threat to Democracy," 13 Apr. 2021 Seaspiracy’s ability to wield cancel culture to drive home a misleading narrative may also undermine people’s trust in ocean conservation organizations and the science behind their efforts. Liz Allen, Forbes, "Seaspiracy: A Call To Action Or A Vehicle Of Misinformation?," 10 Apr. 2021 But large regional disparities undermine the notion that the reason for the low official toll is simply methodological. New York Times, "‘You Can’t Trust Anyone’: Russia’s Hidden Covid Toll Is an Open Secret," 10 Apr. 2021 Opponents say growing the size of the court based on political pressure would significantly undermine its work, adding a veneer of politics to an institution that ostensibly decides cases based on legal principle and not politics. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Biden unveils commission to study changes at the Supreme Court after pressure from progressives," 9 Apr. 2021 During cross-examination, Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, attempted to undermine Arradondo's earlier testimony, by asking when the last time the chief had made an arrest of a combative person. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, "Key takeaways from Day 6 of Derek Chauvin's trial in George Floyd's death," 5 Apr. 2021 Yet a single instance of being excluded can undermine self-control and well-being and often creates pain and conflict. Mike Masterson, Arkansas Online, "Sense of belonging," 4 Apr. 2021 If Florida’s death count turned out to be significantly higher, that would undermine that message. David Fleshler, sun-sentinel.com, "COVID-19 has been more deadly in Florida than reported, especially in rural counties, study shows," 31 Mar. 2021 By allowing crude to trade more freely, the emirate could ultimately undermine the sway of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries over prices. Joe Wallace, WSJ, "New Mideast Crude Contract May Test OPEC’s Grip on Oil," 29 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for undermine

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for undermine

Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Undermine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undermine. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for undermine



English Language Learners Definition of undermine

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


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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