[ uhn-der-pin-ing ]
/ ˈʌn dərˌpɪn ɪŋ /


a system of supports beneath a wall or the like.
Often underpinnings. a foundation or basis: to uncover the emotional underpinnings of an illness.
underpinnings, Informal.
  1. underwear, especially women's underwear.
  2. the legs.

Origin of underpinning

First recorded in 1480–90; under + pin + -ing1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for underpinnings

British Dictionary definitions for underpinnings (1 of 2)


/ (ˈʌndəˌpɪnɪŋz) /

pl n

any supporting structure or system

British Dictionary definitions for underpinnings (2 of 2)


/ (ˈʌndəˌpɪnɪŋ) /


a structure of masonry, concrete, etc, placed beneath a wall to provide support
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 underpinnings



late 15c., "action of supporting or strengthening from beneath," from under + present participle of pin (v.). Figurative sense of "prop, support" is recorded from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper