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

If things work out as planned, the ID.3’s technical underpinnings, dubbed MEB, will emerge as a new industrial standard for battery-powered cars, giving Volkswagen economies of scale that rivals would struggle to match. Christoph Rauwald, Fortune, "Volkswagen’s New Battery-Powered Car, the ID.3, Is a $33 Billion Risk," 9 Sep. 2019 But the conceptual underpinnings are never satisfactorily addressed, reduced instead to bits of shorthand in Roy’s clunky, long-winded voice-over. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Brad Pitt sets out to save the world in ‘Ad Astra,’ a space odyssey that stumbles and soars," 30 Aug. 2019 The new car's front-drive underpinnings are immediately apparent: there's a small gap between the front-door seam and the front wheel arch and a large amount of front overhang. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "The New BMW 1-Series Is a FWD-Based Hot Hatchback with 302 HP," 28 May 2019 Image Dippel, who has written about Nazi Germany and the sociological underpinnings of war, turns his attention to polar exploration in this deeply researched and often withering social history. Ashley Shelby, New York Times, "To the Poles — Before They Started Melting," 15 June 2018 The Oregon Supreme Court found the legal underpinning for the doctrine flawed, and struck it down. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Washington firefighter badly burned in 2015 Twisp River fire now fighting law that won’t let him collect damages," 19 Aug. 2019 Yes, there are ways to puncture the moral and economic underpinnings of this culture and self-regard. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Service Jobs and Democracy," 16 Aug. 2019 USA Today, which tracks the financial underpinnings of college sports better than any media outlet, has updated its revenue/expense database with 2018 figures. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Hotline newsletter: Expanded Pac-12 coverage coming this fall, ASU’s new QB, Clay Helton’s hot seat and more," 14 Aug. 2019 Paranoid delusions provide the underpinnings of various extremist predilections and serve to encourage attacks on vulnerable groups. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Democratic Rot and the Origins of American Conspiracism," 3 July 2019

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

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for underpinning

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

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formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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