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  1. a person who founds or establishes.

Origin of founder1

Middle English word dating back to 1275–1325; see origin at found2, -er1


verb (used without object)
  1. (of a ship, boat, etc.) to fill with water and sink.
  2. to fall or sink down, as buildings, ground, etc.: Built on a former lake bed, the building has foundered nearly ten feet.
  3. to become wrecked; fail utterly: The project foundered because public support was lacking.
  4. to stumble, break down, or go lame, as a horse: His mount foundered on the rocky path.
  5. to become ill from overeating.
  6. Veterinary Pathology. (of a horse) to suffer from laminitis.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to fill with water and sink: Rough seas had foundered the ship in mid-ocean.
  2. Veterinary Pathology. to cause (a horse) to break down, go lame, or suffer from laminitis.
  1. Veterinary Pathology. laminitis.

Origin of founder2

1300–50; Middle English foundren < Middle French fondrer to plunge to the bottom, submerge < Vulgar Latin *fundorāre, derivative of *fundor-, taken as stem of Latin fundus bottom
Related formsun·foun·dered, adjectiveun·foun·der·ing, adjective


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3. collapse, perish, succumb, topple, sink; flop.


  1. a person who founds or casts metal, glass, etc.

Origin of founder3

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at found3, -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for founder

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He was the founder of our family--though, of course, he oughtn't to have been.


    William J. Locke

  • If we leave her alone, mayhap she will founder, and then how will the women be saved?

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • When vessels are about to founder, the rats are said to leave 'em.

  • The sons of the founder were, like their father, distinguished for their mechanical ability.


    Samuel Smiles

  • Filled with the idea that the ship was about to founder, Madden stared about.

British Dictionary definitions for founder


  1. a person who establishes an institution, company, society, etc

Word Origin

C14: see found ²


verb (intr)
  1. (of a ship) to sink
  2. to break down or failthe project foundered
  3. to sink into or become stuck in soft ground
  4. to fall in or give way; collapse
  5. (of a horse) to stumble or go lame
  6. archaic (of animals, esp livestock) to become ill from overeating
  1. vet science another name for laminitis

Word Origin

C13: from Old French fondrer to submerge, from Latin fundus bottom; see found ²


Founder is sometimes wrongly used where flounder is meant: this unexpected turn of events left him floundering (not foundering)


    1. a person who makes metal castings
    2. (in combination)an iron founder

Word Origin

C15: see found ³
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for founder


early 14c., from Old French fondrer "collapse; submerge, sink, fall to the bottom," from fond "bottom," from Latin fundus "bottom, foundation" (see fund (n.)). Related: Foundered; foundering.


"one who establishes, one who sets up or institutes something," mid-14c., from Anglo-French fundur, Old French fondeor, from Latin fundator, agent noun from fundare (see found (v.1)).


"one who casts metal," c.1400, agent noun from found (v.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

founder in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. To stumble, especially to stumble and go lame. Used of horses.
  2. To become ill from overeating. Used of livestock.
  3. To be afflicted with laminitis. Used of horses.
  1. laminitis

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