un·der·pin·ning | \ ˈən-dər-ˌpi-niŋ \

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

But, by pooling the work of so many groups, the Brainstorm Consortium was able to go beyond this and cross-correlate the putative genetic underpinnings of 25 psychiatric and neurological problems. The Economist, "A big collaboration is trying to understand diseases of the psyche," 28 June 2018 Lewis’s question exposed the cultural and geographic underpinnings of her racial ideology. Longreads, "Nell Battle Lewis, Storyteller for Jim Crow," 25 May 2018 Galileo’s contention that the Earth was not the center of the universe sparked an epic clash of reason versus religion, one that, in the pope’s view, threatened the underpinnings of the Catholic faith. Joseph P. Kahn, BostonGlobe.com, "Richard Goodwin, Kennedy speechwriter and husband to Doris Kearns Goodwin, dead at 86," 21 May 2018 The family ties, similarities and differences establish the underpinnings of a natural rivalry reminiscent of the old NFL-AFL days. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Moore: Alliance of American Football might seem a long shot, but league has shot to work," 19 May 2018 Mature, thoughtful, decent adults recognize the intellectual underpinnings of snobbery don’t withstand even the shallowest scrutiny. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "Self-made success story meets boyfriend’s snobby family," 17 May 2018 Trump's rejection of the diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear crisis undermines multilateral diplomacy and the very underpinnings of the nuclear order. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Saudi Arabia set to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran restarts program," 9 May 2018 The third-party doctrine, which was created by two cases known as Smith and Miller, was the underpinning for the National Security Agency’s Section 215 metadata program, which was exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Supreme Court rules: Yes, gov’t needs warrant to get cellphone location data," 22 June 2018 And Labour’s critics should keep in mind the philosophical underpinnings of these policies. The Economist, "Corbynomics would change Britain—but not in the way most people think," 17 May 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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Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for underpinning

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

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occurring twice a year or every two years

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