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 While the paternity suit has generated headlines, the intent was never to undermine the Bidens or to raise Roberts' profile, according to Lancaster. Frank E. Lockwood, Arkansas Online, "Filing: No doubt dad of Arkansas baby is Biden son," 21 Nov. 2019 The president tried to get a foreign government to undermine American democracy. Darrel Rowland, Cincinnati.com, "'Quid pro quo' testimony doesn’t change any minds among Ohioans in Congress," 21 Nov. 2019 At the root of these stories, Christians are depicted as collaborators with foreign powers to undermine the Turkish identity. Ramazan Kılınç, The Conversation, "Christians have lived in Turkey for two millennia – but their future is uncertain," 21 Nov. 2019 The Bears’ 17-7 loss to the Rams on Sunday night featured another lifeless offensive performance that undermined solid play by the defense. Rich Campbell, chicagotribune.com, "5 observations from rewatching the Bears’ loss to the Rams in Week 11, including signs of Mitch Trubisky’s hip pointer and Khalil Mack’s empty stat line," 19 Nov. 2019 For instance many supporters of Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, believed that Boko Haram was created by the Northern political class to undermine Jonathan’s government. Jideofor Adibe, Quartz Africa, "How Boko Haram went from a peaceful Islamic sect to one of the world’s deadliest terrorists in a decade," 14 Nov. 2019 To the Founders and other influential theorists of republican political philosophy, corruption was the great force that had undermined republics throughout history. Brianne Gorod, The New Republic, "The First Magistrate in Foreign Pay," 11 Nov. 2019 Last football season, the conference took a beating after the October instant-replay officiating fiasco that undermined the Pac-12 officiating. John Canzano | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Utah AD Mark Harlan weighs in on Pac-12 officiating, the Utes pursuit of a playoff berth... and more," 6 Nov. 2019 The 19-year-old, undrafted rookie represents a disruptive force that could undermine the exploitative system running college basketball. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Phoenix Suns rookie guard Jalen Lecque blazing new path en route to NBA," 15 Oct. 2019

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

25 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Undermine.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undermined. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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Comments on undermine

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