undermine

To undermine literally means to dig a hole underneath something, making it likely to collapse. But we more often use the word to describe sabotage or the act of weakening someone else's efforts.

Originally spelled with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’, undermine has Germanic roots and means to weaken, hinder, or impair. Accidentally undermine the foundation of a house by digging a tunnel to China beneath it and you might be forgiven. Undermine your teacher’s authority by speaking out of turn and throwing spitballs and odds are you’ll get in trouble.

Primary Meanings of undermine

1.
v
destroy property or hinder normal operations
2.
v
hollow out as if making a cave or opening
Full Definitions of undermine
1

v destroy property or hinder normal operations

Synonyms:
counteract, countermine, sabotage, subvert, weaken
Types:
derail
cause to run off the tracks
Type of:
disobey
refuse to go along with; refuse to follow; be disobedient
2

v hollow out as if making a cave or opening

Synonyms:
cave
Types:
sap
excavate the earth beneath
Type of:
core out, hollow, hollow out
remove the interior of

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