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underbelly

[uhn-der-bel-ee] /ˈʌn dərˌbɛl i/
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 of underbelly
1600-1610
1600-10; under- + belly
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for underbelly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The scout ship responded like a nervous horse and fluttered away as the rocket burned and arced beneath the underbelly.

    The Sex Life of the Gods Michael Knerr
  • Goode was peering at the ivory inlay on the underbelly of the stock.

    Murder in the Gunroom Henry Beam Piper
British Dictionary definitions for underbelly

underbelly

/ˈʌndəˌbɛlɪ/
noun (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 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 underbelly
n.

c.1600, from under + belly (n.). In figurative 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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