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understudy

[uhn-der-stuhd-ee]
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verb (used with object), un·der·stud·ied, un·der·stud·y·ing.
  1. to learn (a role) in order to replace the regular actor or actress when necessary.
  2. to act as understudy to (an actor or actress): to understudy the lead.
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verb (used without object), un·der·stud·ied, un·der·stud·y·ing.
  1. to act or work as an understudy.
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noun, plural un·der·stud·ies.
  1. a performer who learns the role of another in order to serve as a replacement if necessary.
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Origin of understudy

First recorded in 1870–75; under- + study
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for under-study

Historical Examples

  • And work pressed, and Flutter-Duck must under-study him in all her spare moments.

    The King of Schnorrers

    Israel Zangwill

  • My under-study sighed, but he knew it was of no use to make any objections.

    The House of Martha

    Frank R. Stockton

  • Her under-study is there—a rude human figure behind a brass screen.

    Following the Equator, Complete

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • This scene is an 'under-study,' by the way, of the other scene in which I read of the discovery of Sir Runan's hat.

    Much Darker Days

    Andrew Lang (AKA A. Huge Longway)

  • In theatrical circles each principal performer is furnished with what is termed in the profession an under-study.

    The House of Martha

    Frank R. Stockton


British Dictionary definitions for under-study

understudy

verb -studies, -studying or -studied
  1. (tr) to study (a role or part) so as to be able to replace the usual actor or actress if necessary
  2. to act as understudy to (an actor or actress)
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noun plural -studies
  1. an actor or actress who studies a part so as to be able to replace the usual actor or actress if necessary
  2. anyone who is trained to take the place of another in case of need
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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 under-study

understudy

v.

also under-study, 1852, in the theatrical sense, from under + study (v.). The noun is attested from 1848, translating Italian supplimento.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper