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[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.
to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.
to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth.
to make an excavation under; dig or tunnel beneath, as a military stronghold.
to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.
Origin of undermine
1300-50; Middle English underminen. See under-, mine2
Related forms
underminer, noun
underminingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for undermined
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thus, the sand will be undermined by the waves, and this will cause the block to fall into the sea.

  • The very foundations of the throne and the empire are undermined.

    Aurelian William Ware
  • A red light seemed to dance before his eyes, and he felt his strength crumbling away from him like undermined earth.

    A Modern Aladdin Howard Pyle
  • His constitution was fragile, and the disease had undermined his strength.

    Chester Rand Horatio Alger, Jr
  • The interior of the defences had been undermined, and the major had just issued the order to fire the train.

    Stoneheart Gustave Aimard
British Dictionary definitions for undermined


verb (transitive)
(of the sea, wind, etc) to wear away the bottom or base of (land, cliffs, etc)
to weaken gradually or insidiously: their insults undermined her confidence
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 undermined



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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