un·​der·​pin·​ning | \ ˈən-dər-ˌpi-niŋ How to pronounce underpinning (audio) \

Definition of underpinning

1 : the material and construction (such as a foundation) used for support of a structure
2 : something that serves as a foundation : basis, support often used in plural the philosophical underpinnings of educational methods
3 : underwear usually used in plural
4 : a person's legs usually used in plural

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Examples of underpinning in a Sentence

the underpinnings of the theory have recently been called into question the underpinnings of the bridge were seriously damaged in the collision

Recent Examples on the Web

Marshall singlehandedly fashioned several of the most critical underpinnings of the field of federal Indian law. Jed S. Rakoff, The New York Review of Books, "Marshall Law," 17 Jan. 2019 None of these complex underpinnings, however, are perceptible to the reader. Luc Sante, Harper's magazine, "A Crew of Variegated Weirdos," 10 Jan. 2019 So with his decision to start formalizing mathematics on the computer, Voevodsky set in motion a process of discovery that ultimately led to something far more ambitious: a recasting of the underpinnings of mathematics. Quanta Magazine, "Will Computers Redefine the Roots of Math?," 19 May 2015 As the standoff has intensified, Liu has become wary of touting the geopolitical underpinnings of his work. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds," 17 June 2019 Over the next 30 years, his essay became a major underpinning of the case for secession. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, "Virginia debated ending slavery after Nat Turner’s revolt," 14 June 2019 Meyer and others suggested that Wheeler might be referring to plans within the White House to convene a task force within the National Security Council to undermine the scientific underpinnings of the National Climate Assessment. Jean Chemnick, Scientific American, "Trump Administration Might “Re-Examine” Climate Modeling," 10 May 2019 Technology is the underpinning of our entire business—[it’s] what enables us to unlock a supply of $230 billion worth of luxury goods in people’s homes and service a worldwide market. Emily Farra, Vogue, "These Are the 50 Digitally-Native Brands You’ll See Everywhere In 2019," 26 Sep. 2018 Details are top secret, but its large wheels tip their hubs to its heavy duty underpinnings. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Trump's new 'Beast' limousine spotted roaming New York City," 24 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'underpinning.' 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 underpinning

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for underpinning

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for underpinning

The first known use of underpinning was in the 15th century

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