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 Some Denton County Democrats accused her of undermining the candidacy of two candidates of color, an allegation Beckley denies but one that helped propel primary challenger Paige Dixon, an African American, into the race. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "In competitive Denton County Texas House race, Michelle Beckley faces challengers from the left and right," 12 Feb. 2020 Yet the mainstream media seems determined to undermine her viability. Kathleen Walsh, TheWeek, "The sidelining of Elizabeth Warren," 12 Feb. 2020 Any investigations into those matters could benefit the president by potentially undermining his political rivals. Katie Benner, New York Times, "Justice Dept. Will Accept Material From Giuliani, but Barr Voices Caution," 10 Feb. 2020 Its object is the police, the troops of the Hong Kong government now seen as controlling agents of a Beijing bent on undermining Hong Kong’s cherished status as a democracy. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘Battle for Hong Kong’ Review: A People Rises Up," 6 Feb. 2020 Syria accuses Turkey of undermining its security by allowing thousands of foreign fighters to battle the Syrian army. Washington Post, "World Digest: Feb. 2, 2020," 3 Feb. 2020 Instead, his defense strategy will focus on undermining the women who will testify against him. Elizabeth Joseph, CNN, "Opening statements in Harvey Weinstein's sex assault trial are set to begin Wednesday. Here's what you need to know," 21 Jan. 2020 Experts point out that this is not the first time that attempts have been made to undermine the rights of tribal communities. Mayank Aggarwal, Quartz India, "India’s missing a clear forest policy and its jungle dwellers are the worst off," 12 Jan. 2020 To me, this is about the legacy of undermining black land ownership. Otis R. Taylor Jr., SFChronicle.com, "2 Oakland moms take radical stand in battle for housing," 9 Jan. 2020

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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undermine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undermine. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for undermine


How to pronounce undermine (audio)

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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