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understudy

[uhn-der-stuhd-ee] /ˈʌn dərˌstʌd i/
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 of understudy
1870-1875
1870-75; under- + study
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for under-study
Historical Examples
  • This scene is an 'under-study,' by the way, of the other scene in which I read of the discovery of Sir Runan's hat.

    Much Darker Days Andrew Lang (AKA A. Huge Longway)
  • In theatrical circles each principal performer is furnished with what is termed in the profession an under-study.

    The House of Martha Frank R. Stockton
  • And work pressed, and Flutter-Duck must under-study him in all her spare moments.

    The King of Schnorrers Israel Zangwill
  • My under-study looked troubled,—more troubled than I had ever seen him before.

    The House of Martha Frank R. Stockton
  • Her under-study is there—a rude human figure behind a brass screen.

    Following the Equator, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • I did consider it, and the next evening I engaged Chester Walkirk as an under-study.

    The House of Martha Frank R. Stockton
  • My under-study sighed, but he knew it was of no use to make any objections.

    The House of Martha Frank R. Stockton
  • In other cases, of which at first I could not have imagined the possibility, my under-study was of use to me.

    The House of Martha Frank R. Stockton
  • The rod dropped from the relaxed fingers of my under-study, and he stood blankly staring at me, and waiting for an explanation.

    The House of Martha Frank R. Stockton
British Dictionary definitions for under-study

understudy

/ˈʌndəˌstʌdɪ/
verb -studies, -studying, -studied
1.
(transitive) 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)
noun (pl) -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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for under-study

understudy

v.

also under-study, 1852, in the theatrical sense, from under + study (v.). The noun is attested from 1848, translating Italian supplimento.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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