[ uhn-der-lahy-ing ]
/ ˈʌn dərˌlaɪ ɪŋ /


lying or situated beneath, as a substratum.
fundamental; basic: the underlying cause of their discontent.
implicit; discoverable only by close scrutiny or analysis: an underlying seriousness in his witticisms.
(of a claim, mortgage, etc.) taking precedence; anterior; prior.
Linguistics. belonging to an earlier stage in the transformational derivation of a sentence or other structure; belonging to the deep structure.

Origin of underlying

First recorded in 1605–15; underlie + -ing2

Definition for underlying (2 of 2)

[ uhn-der-lahy ]
/ ˌʌn dərˈlaɪ /

verb (used with object), un·der·lay, un·der·lain, un·der·ly·ing.

to lie under or beneath; be situated under.
to be at the basis of; form the foundation of.
Grammar. to function as the root morpheme or original or basic form of (a derived form): The form “boy” underlies “boyish.”
Finance. to be primary to another right or security.

Origin of underlie

before 900; Middle English underlyen (v.), Old English underlicgan. See under-, lie2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for underlying

British Dictionary definitions for underlying (1 of 2)

/ (ˌʌndəˈlaɪɪŋ) /


concealed but detectableunderlying guilt
fundamental; basic
lying under
finance (of a claim, liability, etc) taking precedence; prior

British Dictionary definitions for underlying (2 of 2)

/ (ˌʌndəˈlaɪ) /

verb -lies, -lying, -lay or -lain (tr)

to lie or be placed under or beneath
to be the foundation, cause, or basis ofcareful planning underlies all our decisions
finance to take priority over (another claim, liability, mortgage, etc)a first mortgage underlies a second
to be the root or stem from which (a word) is derived"happy" underlies "happiest"

Derived forms of underlie

underlier, 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