underlie

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English underliggen, from Old English underlicgan (to underlie, to be subject to, give way to), equivalent to under- +‎ lie. Cognate with Dutch onderliggen (to lie below, lie on the bottom of), German unterliegen (to lie under, be subject to, succumb).

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

underlie (third-person singular simple present underlies, present participle underlying, simple past underlay, past participle underlain)

  1. (intransitive) To lie in a position directly beneath.
    A stratum of clay underlies the surface gravel.
  2. (transitive) To lie under or beneath.
  3. (transitive) To serve as a basis of; form the foundation of.
    a doctrine underlying a theory
    • 2013 July-August, Sarah Glaz, “Ode to Prime Numbers”, American Scientist, volume 101, number 4: 
      Some poems, echoing the purpose of early poetic treatises on scientific principles, attempt to elucidate the mathematical concepts that underlie prime numbers. Others play with primes’ cultural associations. Still others derive their structure from mathematical patterns involving primes.
  4. (transitive) To be subject to; be liable to answer, as a charge or challenge.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      The knight of Ivanhoe [] underlies the challenge of Brian der Bois Guilbert.
  5. (mining) To underlay.

Translations[edit]