The Meaning of Undermine: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of undermine? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word undermine, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word undermine mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word undermine (pronunciation of undermine: ​ˌʌndəˈmaɪn) is a verb that means to subvert or weaken secretly or insidiously, to perm an excavation on the Earth from beneath something to form a mine, or to wash away some supporting material from underneath something. The past tense of undermine is undermined, but one can also use different suffixes to form other verb tenses or parts of speech like the present participle, such as ed, ing, and er. If one is undermining something, this means that they are trying to weaken or stop something through indirect methods, by gradual process or an underhand way. Underhand means sneaky or secretive, and implies insidious activity. Someone might try to undermine something by offering advice that is bad, through constant bickering, or by stopping normal operations. Undermining might start in imperceptible stages with its initial changes so that nobody will suspect anything. See if you can use the word undermine in a sentence today.

Many different languages also contain words that mean under mine. You might notice that some of these languages have translations that look and sound similar to the word undermine. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root word or language of origin such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations of undermine is provided by Word Sense.

  •  French: saper‎
  •  Hebrew: חתר תחת‎ (ḥatar taḥat)
  •  Maori: whakararu‎
  •  Finnish: heikentää‎, sabotoida‎
  •  Russian: подрыва́ть‎ (impf), подорва́ть‎ (pf)
  •  Hiligaynon: ab-ab‎
  •  Danish: undergrave‎
  •  Roman: potkopati‎, potkopavati‎
  •  Swedish: underminera‎
  •  Portuguese: solapar‎, sabotar‎
  •  German: unterminieren‎
  •  Cyrillic: поткопати‎, поткопавати‎
  •  Dutch: ondermijnen‎, ontwrichten‎
  •  Greek: υπονομεύω‎
  •  Spanish: socavar‎
  •  Persian: تضعیف کردن‎ (taz’if kardan)
  •  Romanian: surpa‎, submina‎, săpa‎
  •  Welsh: tanseilio‎

How can the word undermine be used in a sentence?

The word undermine can be used in many different sentences in the English language. The word undermine is neither considered casual nor formal, so it is appropriate to use in a variety of different circumstances. You can use the word undermine in anything from a casual social media post or text message to a formal letter or professional email.Below are a few examples of undermine. 

In the past year, war efforts were undermined by the people we thought were our allies. It turns out, their credibility was falsified for their own military purposes.

When the postal service was undermined, mail delivery stopped with a sudden dramatic effect.

When they discovered the electoral process was being undermined, the Republicans and the Democrats worked together and stopped the insults.

The people feared that the entire vaccination program would be undermined from a national position in public health. 

He believes he was somehow undermined and that is why he did not get into Princeton University. He knew his own talent would grant him admission.

The railroad operations were undermined by the people who built the stone foundations. They spent many late hours in a cave planning the operation.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word undermine?

Many words in the English language can also be used in place of the word undermine (un ​​​dər-mīn). These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word undermine is provided by Thesaurus

  •  corrode
  •  poke full of holes
  •  dig out
  •  tunnel
  •  whittle away
  •  sap
  •  knock the bottom out of
  •  mine
  •  thwart
  •  soften
  •  debilitate
  •  weaken
  •  subvert
  •  excavate
  •  torpedo
  •  dig
  •  hurt
  •  wreck
  •  threaten
  •  wear
  •  clip one’s wings
  •  ruin
  •  cripple
  •  enfeeble
  •  disable
  •  blunt
  •  hollow out
  •  impair
  •  sabotage
  •  undercut
  •  foil
  •  sandbag
  •  erode
  •  attenuate
  •  frustrate
  •  eat away

There are also numerous different words in the English language that mean the opposite of the word undermine. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word undermine is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  support
  •  abet
  •  work with
  •  serve
  •  relieve
  •  stump
  •  boost
  •  take care of
  •  put on the map
  •  give a leg up
  •  cooperate
  •  expedite
  •  sustain
  •  open doors
  •  puff
  •  thump
  •  assist
  •  run interference for
  •  give a lift
  •  lend a hand
  •  back
  •  go down the line for
  •  go with
  •  aid
  •  grease the wheels
  •  do for
  •  go for
  •  further
  •  facilitate
  •  work for
  •  go to bat for
  •  bail out
  •  plug
  •  benefit
  •  help
  •  reinforce
  •  stand up for
  •  root for
  •  hype
  •  make a pitch for
  •  give a boost
  •  ride shotgun
  •  push
  •  collaborate

What is the origin of the word undermine?

According to Etymonline, the word undermine was originally spelled as the Old English undermyne in the year 1300 (14th c). This was used to mean to render something unstable at the foundation. The figurative usage of this word has been in practice since the early 15th c. This word is similar information to the  Dutch ondermijnen, Danish underminere, and German unterminiren, as well as the Old English verb underdelfan.

Overall, the word undermine (un der min) means To weaken or destroy something in a sneaky or secretive way. The word undermine is usually used in reference to operations. This word is of Old English and Proto-Germanic origins. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! You never know, it might become one of your new favorite words to use.


  1. UNDERMINE Synonyms: 47 Synonyms & Antonyms for UNDERMINE | Thesaurus 
  2. undermine: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense
  3. ASSIST Synonyms: 97 Synonyms & Antonyms for ASSIST | Thesaurus 
  4. undermine | Origin and meaning of undermine by Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Undermine | Definition of Undermine | Merriam-Webster