verb (used with object), un·der·mined, un·der·min·ing.

  1. to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.
  2. to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth.
  3. to make an excavation under; dig or tunnel beneath, as a military stronghold.
  4. to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.

verb (tr)

  1. (of the sea, wind, etc) to wear away the bottom or base of (land, cliffs, etc)
  2. to weaken gradually or insidiouslytheir insults undermined her confidence
  3. to tunnel or dig beneath

v.c.1300, undermyne, from under + mine (v.). The figurative sense is attested from early 15c. Cf. Dutch ondermijnen, Danish underminere, German unterminiren. Related: Undermined; undermining.

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