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[uhn-der-rahyt, uhn-der-rahyt] /ˌʌn dərˈraɪt, ˈʌn dərˌraɪt/
verb (used with object), underwrote, underwritten, underwriting.
to write under or at the foot of, especially under other written matter.
to sign one's name, as to a document.
to show agreement with or to support by or as if by signing one's name to, as a statement or decision.
to bind oneself to contribute a sum of money to (an undertaking):
Wealthy music lovers underwrote the experimental concerts.
to guarantee the sale of (a security issue to be offered to the public for subscription).
  1. to write one's name at the end of (a policy), thereby becoming liable in case of certain losses specified in the policy.
  2. to insure.
  3. to assume liability to the extent of (a specified sum) by way of insurance.
  4. to select or rate (risks) for insurance.
verb (used without object), underwrote, underwritten, underwriting.
to underwrite something.
to carry on the business of an underwriter.
1400-50; late Middle English, translation of Latin subscrībere to write underneath, sign, subscribe Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for underwriting
  • During medical underwriting, insurers review age, gender and health history before offering coverage.
  • Depending on the lender, this charge might be labeled as an underwriting fee, an application fee or even a rate-lock fee.
  • Insurers used to tolerate losses on their underwriting business because healthy investment returns more than made up for them.
  • For one thing, many borrowers are unable to take advantage of lower mortgage rates because of stiffer underwriting requirements.
  • Neither could the models take account of falling mortgage-underwriting standards.
  • Actually, insurers are quite capable of dealing with selection bias through underwriting.
  • Plans must complete the underwriting process before they accept you and they must have an actuarial basis for decisions.
  • Lenders underwrite and approve loans using their own forms noted concerns to speed the underwriting process.
British Dictionary definitions for underwriting


/ˈʊndəˌraɪt; ˌʌndəˈraɪt/
verb (transitive) -writes, -writing, -wrote, -written
(finance) to undertake to purchase at an agreed price any unsold portion of (a public issue of shares, etc)
to accept financial responsibility for (a commercial project or enterprise)
  1. to sign and issue (an insurance policy) thus accepting liability if specified losses occur
  2. to insure (a property or risk)
  3. to accept liability up to (a specified amount) in an insurance policy
to write (words, a signature, etc) beneath (other written matter); subscribe
to support or concur with (a decision, statement, etc) by or as if by signature
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 underwriting



early 15c., from under + write (v.). A loan-translation of Latin subscribere (see subscribe). Used literally at first; modern sense of "to accept the risk of insurance" (1620s) is from notion of signing a marine insurance policy. Meaning "to support by a guarantee of money" is recorded from 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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