9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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
  • Genetics came along and knocked the underpinnings out from under the biological constructions of race.
  • What seems increasingly clear, however, is that the drive to overeat has strong biological underpinnings.
  • More common characteristics such as loyalty, tenaciousness, or the instinct to herd clearly have genetic underpinnings.
  • The presentation aimed to introduce the historical and cultural underpinnings of tattoo art.
  • Certainly, its intellectual underpinnings and signature method of operating are easier to identify than its goals.
  • It can be helpful to learn a bit more about the financial underpinnings of your school.
  • Most are adequate at doing high school physics, say, but have no real meaningful understanding of the theoretical underpinnings.
  • What is astonishing is how little consideration public policy makers give to the underpinnings of terrorism.
  • The pair think they've mapped the mathematical underpinnings of its rigidity.
  • Lem prefers comic speculations that dive deep into the social and ideological underpinnings of science.
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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