Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From under- +‎ mine.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ʌndəˈmaɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪn


undermine (third-person singular simple present undermines, present participle undermining, simple past and past participle undermined)

  1. To dig underneath (something), to make a passage for destructive or military purposes; to sap. [from 14th c.]
    • 2009, Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, Penguin 2010, p. 312:
      Martin, for instance, had on one occasion undermined a tree sacred to old gods, then stood in the path of its fall, but forced it to fall elsewhere by making the sign of the Cross.
  2. (figuratively) To weaken or work against; to hinder, sabotage. [from 15th c.]
    • 2012 April 19, Josh Halliday, “Free speech haven or lawless cesspool – can the internet be civilised?”, in the Guardian:
      The growing use of social media to spread anger and dissent in the Arab world has been hailed by western governments as one of the chief justifications for a completely unfettered internet. The US is reportedly funding the secret rollout of technology in Iran in an effort to undermine internet censors in the country.
    The war efforts were undermined by the constant bickering between the allies.
  3. To erode the base or foundation of something, e.g. by the action of water.
    • 2020 August 26, “Network News: Major flood damage severs key Edinburgh-Glasgow rail artery”, in Rail, page 21:
      Services between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Falkirk High are currently suspended, following a 30-metre breach of the Union Canal that occurred on August 12 after torrential rain and thunderstorms. The thousands of gallons of water that cascaded onto the railway line below washed away track, ballast and overhead line equipment, and undermined embankments along a 300-metre section of Scotland's busiest rail link.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]