Thesaurus

undermine

verb

Synonyms & Antonyms of undermine

to make (someone or something) weaker or less effective usually in a secret or gradual way
  • 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.

Synonyms & Near Synonyms for undermine

Antonyms & Near Antonyms for undermine

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About undermine

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about undermine

Time Traveler for undermine

Time Traveler

The first known use of undermine was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Undermine.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/undermine. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on undermine

Dictionary: Definition of undermine

Nglish: Translation of undermine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of undermine for Arabic Speakers

Comments on undermine

What made you want to look up undermine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!