undermine

verb
un·​der·​mine | \ˌən-dər-ˈmīn, 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

Critics say the new system undermines impartiality and could lead to one-man rule with limited checks and balances. Washington Post, "Erdogan inaugurates Turkey’s powerful executive presidency," 9 July 2018 Critics say the new system undermines impartiality and could lead to one-man rule with limited checks and balances, especially with a weakened judiciary and parliament. Zeynep Bilginsoy, The Seattle Times, "Erdogan names Cabinet for Turkish presidency with new powers," 9 July 2018 Her tenuous position leaves her worse equipped than ever to counter Trump, who has gleefully undermined her on Twitter. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Tweets Signal Usual Aggressive Posture Heading Into NATO Summit," 9 July 2018 Several Republican aides and lawmakers said Trump undermined prospects for success in the House on Thursday with a morning tweet that cast doubt on whether any Republican immigration legislation could pass the Senate. Anchorage Daily News, "GOP immigration bills backed by Trump appear headed for defeat," 21 June 2018 You may be tempted to undermine the success of others to enhance your chances of getting ahead. Linda Clark-santos, idahostatesman, "Want to be successful? Manage up, down, across and out!," 20 June 2018 But a religion founded just under 200 years ago is much more easy to undermine. Sarah Scoles, Longreads, "Meet the New Mormons," 8 June 2018 Madaleno said Trump has undermined federal workers. Erin Cox, baltimoresun.com, "Democrats running for Maryland governor stress differences in third televised debate," 5 June 2018 These findings undermine Airbnb’s long-standing reputation as a platform that gives an economic boost to local communities. Shoshana Wodinsky, The Verge, "Study claims Airbnb is great for your neighborhood’s economy, if it’s predominantly white," 11 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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Statistics for undermine

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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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