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[uhn-der-pin-ing] /ˈʌn dərˌpɪn ɪŋ/
a system of supports beneath a wall or the like.
Often, underpinnings. a foundation or basis:
to uncover the emotional underpinnings of an illness.
underpinnings, Informal.
  1. underwear, especially women's underwear.
  2. the legs.
Origin of underpinning
1480-90; under + pin + -ing1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for underpinnings
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The gate of the nameless mausoleum had not been opened for many years, and the wind had heaped the dirt against the underpinnings.

    The Enemies of Women Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • That ship you talked of is awfully plated up topside, but all her underpinnings are pretty weak.

    A Fleet in Being Rudyard Kipling
  • Clank, the presses begin again, and all afternoon I iron gentlemen's underpinnings.

    Working With the Working Woman Cornelia Stratton Parker
  • You will have cut the underpinnings from beneath the American dollar.

    Damned If You Don't Gordon Randall Garrett
British Dictionary definitions for underpinnings


plural noun
any supporting structure or system


a structure of masonry, concrete, etc, placed beneath a wall to provide support
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 underpinnings



late 15c., "action of supporting or strengthening from beneath," from under + present participle of pin (v.). Figurative sense of "prop, support" is recorded from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for underpinnings

under one's nose

adverb phrase

In plain sight, although unnoticed: I'm afraid I may be missing something that's right under my nose (1548+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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