underbellies

underbelly

[uhn-der-bel-ee]
noun, plural underbellies.
1.
the lower abdomen; posterior ventral area, as of an animal's body.
2.
the lower surface of an object; underside: the underbelly of an airplane.
3.
a vulnerable area; weak point: an attack on the soft underbelly of Europe.
4.
a dark, seamy, often hidden area or side: a police officer continually exposed to the underbelly of society.

Origin:
1600–10; under- + belly

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
underbelly (ˈʌndəˌbɛlɪ)
 
n , pl -lies
1.  the part of an animal's belly nearest to the ground
2.  a vulnerable or unprotected part, aspect, or region

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

underbelly
1607, from under + belly. In fig. sense of "most vulnerable part" it is recorded from Churchill's 1942 speech. Sometimes used erroneously in sense of "seamy or sordid part" of anything.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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