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[uhn-der-rahyt, uhn-der-rahyt] /ˌʌn dərˈraɪt, ˈʌn dərˌraɪt/
verb (used with object), underwrote, underwritten, underwriting.
to write under or at the foot of, especially under other written matter.
to sign one's name, as to a document.
to show agreement with or to support by or as if by signing one's name to, as a statement or decision.
to bind oneself to contribute a sum of money to (an undertaking):
Wealthy music lovers underwrote the experimental concerts.
to guarantee the sale of (a security issue to be offered to the public for subscription).
  1. to write one's name at the end of (a policy), thereby becoming liable in case of certain losses specified in the policy.
  2. to insure.
  3. to assume liability to the extent of (a specified sum) by way of insurance.
  4. to select or rate (risks) for insurance.
verb (used without object), underwrote, underwritten, underwriting.
to underwrite something.
to carry on the business of an underwriter.
Origin of underwrite
1400-50; late Middle English, translation of Latin subscrībere to write underneath, sign, subscribe Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for underwrite
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I shall not underwrite the name till you have judged of my painting.


    E. (Eliza) Fenwick
  • And the firm can underwrite the last hundred thousand, and that will clean it up.

    Tutt and Mr. Tutt

    Arthur Train
  • Is it all right for us to underwrite the stock ourselves at half price?

    Tutt and Mr. Tutt

    Arthur Train
  • The association will also underwrite the bonds and preference shares.

    The Harris-Ingram Experiment Charles E. Bolton
  • Ascher, Stutz & Co. will underwrite the new issues and take three and one-half per cent.

    Gossamer George A. Birmingham
  • The brokers fell over one another to underwrite the offering by telegraph.

    My Adventures with Your Money George Graham Rice
  • (Mr. Grierson's eye fell on me), "and sell it out to the public, if you underwrite it, for two million or so."

    A Far Country, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for underwrite


/ˈʊndəˌraɪt; ˌʌndəˈraɪt/
verb (transitive) -writes, -writing, -wrote, -written
(finance) to undertake to purchase at an agreed price any unsold portion of (a public issue of shares, etc)
to accept financial responsibility for (a commercial project or enterprise)
  1. to sign and issue (an insurance policy) thus accepting liability if specified losses occur
  2. to insure (a property or risk)
  3. to accept liability up to (a specified amount) in an insurance policy
to write (words, a signature, etc) beneath (other written matter); subscribe
to support or concur with (a decision, statement, etc) by or as if by signature
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 underwrite

early 15c., from under + write (v.). A loan-translation of Latin subscribere (see subscribe). Used literally at first; modern sense of "to accept the risk of insurance" (1620s) is from notion of signing a marine insurance policy. Meaning "to support by a guarantee of money" is recorded from 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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