under study

understudy

[uhn-der-stuhd-ee]
verb (used with object), understudied, understudying.
1.
to learn (a role) in order to replace the regular actor or actress when necessary.
2.
to act as understudy to (an actor or actress): to understudy the lead.
verb (used without object), understudied, understudying.
3.
to act or work as an understudy.
noun, plural understudies.
4.
a performer who learns the role of another in order to serve as a replacement if necessary.

Origin:
1870–75; under- + study

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World English Dictionary
understudy (ˈʌndəˌstʌdɪ)
 
vb , -studies, -studying, -studied
1.  (tr) to study (a role or part) so as to be able to replace the usual actor or actress if necessary
2.  to act as understudy to (an actor or actress)
 
n , -studies, -studying, -studied, -studies
3.  an actor or actress who studies a part so as to be able to replace the usual actor or actress if necessary
4.  anyone who is trained to take the place of another in case of need

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

understudy
1874, in the theatrical sense, from under + study (v.). The noun is attested from 1882.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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