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Etymology 1[edit]

From Old French fondeur, from Latin fundātor.


founder (plural founders, feminine foundress)

  1. One who founds or establishes (especially said of a company, project, organisation, state)
    the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg
  2. (genetics) Someone for whose parents one has no data.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle French fondeur, from Latin fundo (pour, melt, cast)


founder (plural founders)

  1. The iron worker in charge of the blast furnace and the smelting operation.
    • 1957, H.R. Schubert, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry, p. 161.
      The term 'founder' was applied in the British iron industry long afterwards to the ironworker in charge of the blast furnace and the smelting operation.
  2. One who casts metals in various forms; a caster.
    a founder of cannon, bells, hardware, or printing types

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle French fondrer (send to the bottom), from Latin fundus (bottom)


founder (plural founders)

  1. (veterinary medicine) A severe laminitis of a horse, caused by untreated internal inflammation in the hooves.


founder (third-person singular simple present founders, present participle foundering, simple past and past participle foundered)

  1. (intransitive, of a ship) To flood with water and sink.
    • 1719 April 25, [Daniel Defoe], The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, [], 3rd edition, London: [] W[illiam] Taylor [], published 1719, OCLC 838630407:
      We were not much more than a quarter of an hour out of our ship but we saw her sink, and then I understood for the first time what was meant by a ship foundering in the sea.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 9, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299:
      This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog—in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn;(...)
    • 2018 October 17, Drachinifel, Last Ride of the High Seas Fleet - Battle of Texel 1918[1], archived from the original on 4 August 2022, retrieved 4 August 2022, 27:33 from the start:
      Amongst the battleships, things are rather different. Barham led a valiant charge, but suffered for it; she will founder under tow in the Thames estuary shallows, eventually being refloated and refitted after the war.
  2. (intransitive) To fall; to stumble and go lame, as a horse.
  3. (intransitive) To fail; to miscarry.
  4. (transitive, archaic, nautical) To cause to flood and sink, as a ship.
    • 1697, William Dampier, A New Voyage Round the VVorld. [], London: [] James Knapton, [], OCLC 1179524264, page 82:
      We found a strong Tide setting out of the Streights to the Northward, and like to founder our Ship.
    • 1744, William Smith, A New Voyage to Guinea, page 167, quoted in The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds Of The Slave Trade, Robert Harms, 2008
      "I was amazed when we came among the breakers (which to me seemed large enough to founder our ship), to see with what wondrous dexterity they carried us through them, and ran their canoes on the top of one of those rolling waves [] "
    • 1932, Hart Crane, "From haunts of Proserpine" (Review of Green River: A Poem for Rafinesque, James Whaler
      But still more disastrous was the storm which foundered his ship in Long Island Sound, swallowing within call of shore his fifty boxes of scientific equipment, his books, manuscripts and funds, the results of years of devoted labor.
  5. (transitive) To disable or lame (a horse) by causing internal inflammation and soreness in the feet or limbs.

Usage notes[edit]

Frequently confused with flounder. Both may be applied to the same situation, with the difference being the severity of the action: floundering (struggling to maintain position) comes first, followed by foundering (losing it by falling, sinking, or failing).


Old French[edit]


From Latin fundō.



  1. (late Anglo-Norman) Alternative spelling of funder


This verb conjugates as a first-group verb ending in -er. The forms that would normally end in *-d, *-ds, *-dt are modified to t, z, t. Old French conjugation varies significantly by date and by region. The following conjugation should be treated as a guide.