[verb uhn-der-skawr, -skohr, uhn-der-skawr, -skohr; noun uhn-der-skawr, -skohr]

verb (used with object), un·der·scored, un·der·scor·ing.

to mark with a line or lines underneath; underline, as for emphasis.
to stress; emphasize: The recent tragedy underscores the danger of disregarding safety rules.


a line drawn beneath something written or printed.
music for a film soundtrack; background for a film or stage production.

Origin of underscore

First recorded in 1765–75; under- + score
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for underscores

highlight, stress, accentuate, mark, indicate, caption, accent, feature, italicize

Examples from the Web for underscores

Contemporary Examples of underscores

Historical Examples of underscores

  • Italicized text is represented in the etext with underscores thusly.

    Latter-Day Pamphlets

    Thomas Carlyle

  • Sole in the violent welter of those sheets it had no underscores nor any exclamations.

    This Freedom

    A. S. M. Hutchinson

  • This latter theme, with the motive of Fate, underscores the earlier portions of the dialogue between Golaud and Mélisande.

  • The sad situation of the smaller and much less industrialized Monocacy in the same summer underscores the point.

    The Nation's River

    United States Department of the Interior

  • In edition 11, underscores are used to denote words and phrases italicized for emphasis.

    This Side of Paradise

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

British Dictionary definitions for underscores


verb (ˌʌndəˈskɔː) (tr)

to draw or score a line or mark under
to stress or reinforce

noun (ˈʌndəˌskɔː)

a line drawn under written matter
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 underscores



1771, "to draw a line under," from under + score (v.). The figurative sense of "to emphasize" is attested from 1891. Noun meaning "a line drawn below (something)" is recorded from 1901.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper