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sabotage

[sab-uh-tahzh, sab-uh-tahzh]
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noun
  1. any underhand interference with production, work, etc., in a plant, factory, etc., as by enemy agents during wartime or by employees during a trade dispute.
  2. any undermining of a cause.
verb (used with object), sab·o·taged, sab·o·tag·ing.
  1. to injure or attack by sabotage.

Origin of sabotage

1865–70; < French, equivalent to sabot(er) to botch, orig., to strike, shake up, harry, derivative of sabot sabot + -age -age
Related formsun·sab·o·taged, adjective

Synonyms

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3. disable, vandalize, cripple.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sabotage

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I was in his office when the report of sabotage to your plane came through.

    Space Platform

    Murray Leinster

  • “I got a hunch I know what kind of sabotage will be tried next—and when,” said Mike.

    Space Platform

    Murray Leinster

  • But of course there were the orders that said he was a sabotage expert.

    Space Platform

    Murray Leinster

  • There was a sort of pattern in the way the other sabotage incidents had been planned.

    Space Platform

    Murray Leinster

  • By "other situation" Crag knew he was referring to the sabotage.


British Dictionary definitions for sabotage

sabotage

noun
  1. the deliberate destruction, disruption, or damage of equipment, a public service, etc, as by enemy agents, dissatisfied employees, etc
  2. any similar action or behaviour
verb
  1. (tr) to destroy, damage, or disrupt, esp by secret means

Word Origin

C20: from French, from saboter to spoil through clumsiness (literally: to clatter in sabots)
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 sabotage

n.

1907 (from 1903 as a French word in English), from French sabotage, from saboter "to sabotage, bungle," literally "walk noisily," from sabot "wooden shoe" (13c.), altered (by association with Old French bot "boot") from Middle French savate "old shoe," from an unidentified source that also produced similar words in Old Provençal, Portuguese, Spanish (zapata), Italian (ciabatta), Arabic (sabbat), and Basque (zapata).

In French, and at first in English, the sense of "deliberately and maliciously destroying property" originally was in reference to labor disputes, but the oft-repeated story (as old as the record of the word in English) that the modern meaning derives from strikers' supposed tactic of throwing shoes into machinery is not supported by the etymology. Likely it was not meant as a literal image; the word was used in French in a variety of "bungling" senses, such as "to play a piece of music badly." This, too, was the explanation given in some early usages.

SABOTAGE [chapter heading] The title we have prefixed seems to mean "scamping work." It is a device which, we are told, has been adopted by certain French workpeople as a substitute for striking. The workman, in other words, purposes to remain on and to do his work badly, so as to annoy his employer's customers and cause loss to his employer. ["The Liberty Review," January 1907]



You may believe that sabotage is murder, and so forth, but it is not so at all. Sabotage means giving back to the bosses what they give to us. Sabotage consists in going slow with the process of production when the bosses go slow with the same process in regard to wages. [Arturo M. Giovannitti, quoted in report of the Sagamore Sociological Conference, June 1907]



In English, "malicious mischief" would appear to be the nearest explicit definition of "sabotage," which is so much more expressive as to be likely of adoption into all languages spoken by nations suffering from this new force in industry and morals. Sabotage has a flavor which is unmistakable even to persons knowing little slang and no French .... ["Century Magazine," November 1910]

v.

1912, from sabotage (n). Related: Sabotaged; sabotaging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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