When you subvert something, your words or actions criticize or undermine the usual way of doing something or common values. The girl who wears a tuxedo to the prom might subvert traditional ideas about beauty.

To subvert an institution like a school or a government is to overthrow it or stop its normal way of functioning. Subvert comes from the Latin word subvertere, which combines the prefix sub, under, and the suffix vertere, to turn. So you can imagine something that subverts as overturning or flipping the usual way of doing things, like a student who subverts a teacher's authority, causing chaos in the classroom.

Definitions of subvert
  1. verb
    overthrow or destroy completely
    “we must not let our civil liberties be subverted by the current crisis”
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    type of:
    destroy, ruin
    destroy completely; damage irreparably
  2. verb
    destroy property or hinder normal operations
    synonyms: counteract, countermine, sabotage, undermine, weaken
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    cause to run off the tracks
    type of:
    refuse to go along with; refuse to follow; be disobedient
  3. verb
    corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality
    synonyms: corrupt, debase, debauch, demoralise, demoralize, deprave, misdirect, pervert, profane, vitiate
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    carnalise, carnalize, sensualise, sensualize
    debase through carnal gratification
    corrupt with ideas or an ideology
    lead astray, lead off
    teach immoral behavior to
    spoil as if by poison
    bastardise, bastardize
    change something so that its value declines; for example, art forms
    incite to commit a crime or an evil deed
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  4. verb
    cause the downfall of; of rulers
    subvert the ruling class”
    synonyms: bring down, overthrow, overturn, topple
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    overthrow by a revolution, of governments
    type of:
    depose, force out
    force to leave (an office)
Word Family

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