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2017 Word of the Year

undermine

[uhn-der-mahyn or especially for 1, 2, 4, uhn-der-mahyn] /ˌʌn dərˈmaɪn or especially for 1, 2, 4, ˈʌn dərˌmaɪn/
verb (used with object), undermined, undermining.
1.
to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.
2.
to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth.
3.
to make an excavation under; dig or tunnel beneath, as a military stronghold.
4.
to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.
Origin of undermine
1300-1350
First recorded in 1300-50, undermine is from the Middle English word underminen. See under-, mine2
Related forms
underminer, noun
underminingly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for undermine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Such association is enough to undermine the morals of a saint, in a week or two.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • It is not in the power of events to undermine the felicity of the virtuous.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • Or, more probably, pity had not come in to undermine the foundations.

    Rosinante to the Road Again

    John Dos Passos
  • Strafford, The wind that saps these walls can undermine Your camp in Scotland, too.

    Browning's England Helen Archibald Clarke
  • The boys borrowed these, and went to work to undermine the big stone.

British Dictionary definitions for undermine

undermine

/ˌʌndəˈmaɪn/
verb (transitive)
1.
(of the sea, wind, etc) to wear away the bottom or base of (land, cliffs, etc)
2.
to weaken gradually or insidiously: their insults undermined her confidence
3.
to tunnel or dig beneath
Derived Forms
underminer, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for undermine
v.

c.1300, undermyne, from under + mine (v.). The figurative sense is attested from early 15c. Cf. Dutch ondermijnen, Danish underminere, German unterminiren. Related: Undermined; undermining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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