undermine

[uhn-der-mahyn or especially for 1, 2, 4, uhn-der-mahyn]
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verb (used with object), un·der·mined, un·der·min·ing.
  1. to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.
  2. to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth.
  3. to make an excavation under; dig or tunnel beneath, as a military stronghold.
  4. to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.

Origin of undermine

First recorded in 1300–50, undermine is from the Middle English word underminen. See under-, mine2
Related formsun·der·min·er, nounun·der·min·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for undermine

Contemporary Examples of undermine

Historical Examples of undermine

  • Such association is enough to undermine the morals of a saint, in a week or two.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • It is not in the power of events to undermine the felicity of the virtuous.

    Imogen

    William Godwin

  • Or, more probably, pity had not come in to undermine the foundations.

  • Strafford, The wind that saps these walls can undermine Your camp in Scotland, too.

    Browning's England

    Helen Archibald Clarke

  • The boys borrowed these, and went to work to undermine the big stone.


British Dictionary definitions for undermine

undermine

verb (tr)
  1. (of the sea, wind, etc) to wear away the bottom or base of (land, cliffs, etc)
  2. to weaken gradually or insidiouslytheir insults undermined her confidence
  3. to tunnel or dig beneath
Derived Formsunderminer, 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

Word Origin and History for undermine
v.

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