underpinning

[uhn-der-pin-ing]
noun
1.
a system of supports beneath a wall or the like.
2.
Often, underpinnings. a foundation or basis: to uncover the emotional underpinnings of an illness.
3.
underpinnings, Informal.
a.
underwear, especially women's underwear.
b.
the legs.

Origin:
1480–90; under + pin + -ing1

Dictionary.com Unabridged

underpin

[uhn-der-pin]
verb (used with object), underpinned, underpinning.
1.
to prop up or support from below; strengthen, as by reinforcing a foundation.
2.
to replace or strengthen the foundation of (a building or the like).
3.
to furnish a foundation for; corroborate: The author's conclusions are underpinned by references to experimental findings.

Origin:
1515–25; under- + pin

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
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

underpinning (ˈʌndəˌpɪnɪŋ)
 
n
a structure of masonry, concrete, etc, placed beneath a wall to provide support

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

underpinning
1489, "action of supporting or strengthening from beneath," from under + pp. of pin (v.). Fig. sense of "prop, support" is recorded from 1589.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Raise, support and lower the column to transfer the load to underpinning structure.
Things can be useful even without an understanding of the scientific principles underpinning the thing.
Underpinning this debate about imbalances is a renewed focus on the balance of payments.
And it happens to continue to help undermine the feudal underpinning in a
  really positive way.
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