break ground,
    1. to plow.
    2. to begin excavation for a construction project.
    3. to begin upon or take preparatory measures for any undertaking.
    cover ground,
    1. to pass or travel over a certain area.
    2. to make a certain amount of progress in dealing with a piece of work, subject, treatise, or the like: He talked for two hours without covering much ground.
    cut the ground from under, to render (an argument, position, person, etc.) ineffective or invalid; refute: It didn't require much effort to cut the ground from under that case.
    from the ground up,
    1. gradually from the most elementary level to the highest level: She learned the business from the ground up.
    2. extensively; thoroughly: The professor knew his subject from the ground up.
    gain ground,
    1. to make progress; advance.
    2. to gain approval or acceptance: The case for air-pollution control is gaining ground throughout the country.
    give ground, to yield to force or forceful argument; retreat: The disarmament talks reached an impasse when neither side would give ground on inspection proposals.
    hold/stand one's ground, to maintain one's position; be steadfast: The referee stood his ground, though his decision was hotly contested by the crowd.
    into the ground, beyond a reasonable or necessary point: You've stated your case, and you needn't run it into the ground.
    lose ground,
    1. to retreat or be forced back.
    2. to lose one's advantage; suffer a reverse.
    3. to wane in popularity or acceptance; begin to fail: Our candidate is losing ground in industrial areas.
    off the ground, Informal. into action or well under way: The play never got off the ground.
    on one's own ground, in an area or situation that one knows well.
    on the ground, at the place of interest or importance; actively engaged: Minutes after the bank robbery reporters were on the ground to get the story.
    shift ground, to change position in an argument or situation.
    suit down to the ground, to be perfectly satisfactory; please greatly: This climate suits me down to the ground.
    take the ground, Nautical. to become grounded at low water.
    to ground,
    1. into a den, burrow, shelter, or the like: a fox gone to ground.
    2. into concealment or hiding: Rather than take the witness stand, she went to ground in another country.

Origin of ground

before 900; (noun) Middle English grownd, grund, Old English grund; cognate with Dutch grond, German Grund; (verb) Middle English grundien, grownden “to set on a foundation, establish,” derivative of the noun
Related formsground·a·ble, adjectiveground·a·bly, adverbground·ed·ly, adverbground·ed·ness, nounground·ward, ground·wards, adverb, adjectiveun·ground·a·ble, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cut the ground from under




the land surface
earth or soilhe dug into the ground outside his house
(plural) the land around a dwelling house or other building
(sometimes plural) an area of land given over to a purposefootball ground; burial grounds
land having a particular characteristiclevel ground; high ground
matter for consideration or debate; field of research or inquirythe lecture was familiar ground to him; the report covered a lot of ground
a position or viewpoint, as in an argument or controversy (esp in the phrases give ground, hold, stand, or shift one's ground)
position or advantage, as in a subject or competition (esp in the phrases gain ground, lose ground, etc)
(often plural) reason; justificationgrounds for complaint
  1. the prepared surface applied to the support of a painting, such as a wall, canvas, etc, to prevent it reacting with or absorbing the paint
  2. the support of a painting
  3. the background of a painting or main surface against which the other parts of a work of art appear superimposed
  1. the first coat of paint applied to a surface
  2. (as modifier)ground colour
the bottom of a river or the sea
(plural) sediment or dregs, esp from coffee
mainly British the floor of a room
  1. the area from the popping crease back past the stumps, in which a batsman may legally stand
  2. ground staff
a mesh or network supporting the main pattern of a piece of lace
electrical, US and Canadian
  1. a connection between an electrical circuit or device and the earth, which is at zero potential
  2. Also called: eartha terminal to which this connection is made
above ground alive
below ground dead and buried
break new ground to do something that has not been done before
cut the ground from under someone's feet to anticipate someone's action or argument and thus make it irrelevant or meaningless
to the ground or down to the ground British informal completely; absolutelyit suited him down to the ground
get off the ground informal to make a beginning, esp one that is successful
go to ground to go into hiding
into the ground beyond what is requisite or can be endured; to exhaustion
meet someone on his own ground to meet someone according to terms he has laid down himself
the high ground or the moral high ground a position of moral or ethical superiority in a dispute
touch ground
  1. (of a ship) to strike the sea bed
  2. to arrive at something solid or stable after discussing or dealing with topics that are abstract or inconclusive
(modifier) situated on, living on, or used on the groundground frost; ground forces
(modifier) concerned with or operating on the ground, esp as distinct from in the airground crew; ground hostess
(modifier) (used in names of plants) low-growing and often trailing or spreading


(tr) to put or place on the ground
(tr) to instruct in fundamentals
(tr) to provide a basis or foundation for; establish
(tr) to confine (an aircraft, pilot, etc) to the ground
(tr) informal to confine (a child) to the house as a punishment
the usual US word for earth (def. 16)
(tr) nautical to run (a vessel) aground
(tr) to cover (a surface) with a preparatory coat of paint
(intr) to hit or reach the ground

Word Origin for ground

Old English grund; related to Old Norse grunn shallow, grunnr, grund plain, Old High German grunt




the past tense and past participle of grind


having the surface finished, thickness reduced, or an edge sharpened by grinding
reduced to fine particles by grinding
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 cut the ground from under



Old English grund "bottom, foundation, ground, surface of the earth," especially "bottom of the sea" (a sense preserved in run aground), from Proto-Germanic *grundus, which seems to have meant "deep place" (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish grund, Dutch grond, Old High German grunt, German Grund "ground, soil, bottom;" Old Norse grunn "a shallow place," grund "field, plain," grunnr "bottom"). No known cognates outside Germanic. Sense of "reason, motive" first attested c.1200; electrical sense is from 1870.



mid-13c., "to put on the ground, to strike down to the ground," from ground (n.). Of ships, "to run into the ground," from mid-15c. Meaning "to base" (an argument, sermon, etc.) is late 14c. Meaning "deny privileges" is 1940s, originally a punishment meted out to pilots (in which sense it is attested from 1930). Related: Grounded; grounding.



"reduced to fine particles by grinding," 1765, past participle adjective from grind.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for cut the ground from under



A connection between an electrical conductor and the Earth. Grounds are used to establish a common zero-voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. Also called earth
The set of shared points in an electrical circuit at which the measured voltage is taken to be zero. The ground is usually connected directly to the power supply and acts as a common “sink” for current flowing through the components in the circuit.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with cut the ground from under

cut the ground from under

Unexpectedly withdraw support or destroy one's foundation, trip someone up. For example, Overriding his veto, Congress cut the ground from under the President. This metaphoric phrase alludes to removing the solid earth from under someone. [Mid-1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with ground

  • ground floor, get in on the
  • ground rules

also see:

  • both feet on the ground
  • break ground
  • common ground
  • cover ground
  • cover the field (ground)
  • cut the ground from under
  • down to the ground
  • ear to the ground
  • from the ground up
  • gain ground
  • get off the ground
  • give ground
  • happy hunting ground
  • hit the ground running
  • lose ground
  • on one's home ground
  • run into the ground
  • run to earth (ground)
  • stamping ground
  • stand one's ground
  • worship the ground someone walks on
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.