Synonym Chooser

How is the word undermine distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of undermine are cripple, debilitate, disable, enfeeble, sap, and weaken. While all these words mean "to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor," 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

When is cripple a more appropriate choice than undermine?

The meanings of cripple and undermine largely overlap; however, cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element.

crippled by arthritis

When can debilitate be used instead of undermine?

While the synonyms debilitate and undermine are close in meaning, debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

When could disable be used to replace undermine?

The words disable and undermine can be used in similar contexts, but disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

When is it sensible to use enfeeble instead of undermine?

Although the words enfeeble and undermine have much in common, enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

When might weaken be a better fit than undermine?

The words weaken and undermine are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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

Thesaurus Entries Near undermine

Cite this Entry

“Undermine.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/undermine. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

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