verb (used with object), underpinned, underpinning.
to prop up or support from below; strengthen, as by reinforcing a foundation.
to replace or strengthen the foundation of (a building or the like).
to furnish a foundation for; corroborate: The author's conclusions are underpinned by references to experimental findings.

1515–25; under- + pin

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
underpin (ˌʌndəˈpɪn)
vb , -pins, -pinning, -pinned
1.  to support from beneath, esp by a prop, while avoiding damaging or weakening the superstructure: to underpin a wall
2.  to give corroboration, strength, or support to

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Example sentences
They provide access to new ideas and technologies that underpin national
The skills they possess underpin the technological advances that drive
  improvements in productivity and living standards.
More deeply, the ideas that underpin monarchism would appear to enjoy scant
Once scorned as nervous tics, certain tiny, unconscious flicks of the eyes now
  turn out to underpin much of our ability to see.
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