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From Middle English underwriten, from Old English underwrītan (to write at the foot of, write under, subscribe), equivalent to under- +‎ write. Compare Dutch onderschrijven (to endorse), German unterschreiben (to sign; endorse).


  • IPA(key): /ˈʌndəɹaɪt/, /ʌndəˈɹaɪt/
    • (file)


underwrite (third-person singular simple present underwrites, present participle underwriting, simple past underwrote, past participle underwritten)

  1. (transitive) To write below or under; subscribe.
  2. (transitive, intransitive, obsolete) To subscribe (a document, policy etc.) with one's name.
  3. (transitive) To sign; to put one's name to.
  4. (transitive) To agree to pay by signing one's name; subscribe.
  5. (transitive) Specifically, to assume financial responsibility for something, and guarantee it against failure.
  6. (intransitive, insurance) To act as an underwriter.
    • (Can we date this quote by Marshall and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      The broker who procures the insurance ought not, by underwriting the policy, to deprive the parties of his unbiased testimony.
  7. (transitive) To support, lend support to, guarantee the basis of.
  8. (transitive) To submit to; put up with.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]