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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
1600-1610
1600-10; under- + belly
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for underbelly
  • Be prepared to learn about the dark underbelly of humanity.
  • But when threatened, the animal will clamp down tightly on the seafloor to protect its soft underbelly.
  • To see this place on a globe, one must lift it upward to expose the underbelly of the planet.
  • The seamy underbelly of the process is that it is messy.
  • It allows for a kind of vulnerability, coming in toward the underbelly of the mouse.
  • Maybe the butler is part of the sad, festering underbelly of society, and it doesn't matter who did it anyhow.
  • Trolling the underbelly of progressive rock is not exactly the way to make a quick killing in the promotion business.
  • Gray to grayish-brown with lighter feet and underbelly.
  • The body is generally tan to olive in color, with the back usually dark while the underbelly is often white.
  • Each manta ray has been placed in a category depending on its unique underbelly markings.
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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