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noun, plural un·der·bel·lies.
  1. the lower abdomen; posterior ventral area, as of an animal's body.
  2. the lower surface of an object; underside: the underbelly of an airplane.
  3. a vulnerable area; weak point: an attack on the soft underbelly of Europe.
  4. a dark, seamy, often hidden area or side: a police officer continually exposed to the underbelly of society.
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Origin of underbelly

First recorded in 1600–10; under- + belly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for underbelly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Goode was peering at the ivory inlay on the underbelly of the stock.

    Murder in the Gunroom

    Henry Beam Piper

  • The scout ship responded like a nervous horse and fluttered away as the rocket burned and arced beneath the underbelly.

British Dictionary definitions for underbelly


noun plural -lies
  1. the part of an animal's belly nearest to the ground
  2. a vulnerable or unprotected part, aspect, or region
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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 underbelly


c.1600, from under + belly (n.). In figurative sense of "most vulnerable part" it is recorded from Churchill's 1942 speech. Sometimes used erroneously in sense of "seamy or sordid part" of anything.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper