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[uhn-der-mahyn or especially for 1, 2, 4, uhn-der-mahyn] /ˌʌn dərˈmaɪn or especially for 1, 2, 4, ˈʌn dərˌmaɪn/
verb (used with object), undermined, undermining.
to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.
to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth.
to make an excavation under; dig or tunnel beneath, as a military stronghold.
to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.
Origin of undermine
1300-50; Middle English underminen. See under-, mine2
Related forms
underminer, noun
underminingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for undermining
  • undermining that kind of power can happen, but it normally takes wars, and it certainly takes generations.
  • As sea levels rise, persistent ocean waves reach farther inland, undermining property once well out of harm's way.
  • Termites may have been a severe problem, undermining the timbers that held up many structures.
  • In fact, they seem to be devoting considerable resources to undermining them.
  • Proponents of information freedom and of undermining censorship are increasingly turning to more radical means of making a point.
  • Preventing water scarcity from undermining food security, ecological life-support systems, and social stability will not be easy.
  • Unfortunately you are part of the positive feedback loop, undermining the negative feedback loop.
  • Their attempt is no less than the undermining of our future.
  • Trust too much to the latter, and you may end up by undermining the integrity of the former.
  • Nuclear energy, far from undermining anti-proliferation efforts, can supplement them.
British Dictionary definitions for undermining


verb (transitive)
(of the sea, wind, etc) to wear away the bottom or base of (land, cliffs, etc)
to weaken gradually or insidiously: their insults undermined her confidence
to tunnel or dig beneath
Derived Forms
underminer, noun
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 undermining



c.1300, undermyne, from under + mine (v.). The figurative sense is attested from early 15c. Cf. Dutch ondermijnen, Danish underminere, German unterminiren. Related: Undermined; undermining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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