To undermine means to weaken or impair something, often intentionally, with the goal of diminishing its effectiveness, value, or stability. It usually involves subtle or indirect actions that erode confidence, authority, or support in order to undermine the overall integrity or success of a person, organization, concept, or system.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



weaken, sabotage, subvert, impair, diminish, erode, undercut, ruin, damage, destabilize


strengthen, support, fortify, enhance, uplift, bolster, promote, safeguard, reinforce

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun None
Verb undermines, undermined, undermining, undermine
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The scandal in the company’s leadership undermined the trust and loyalty of its employees.

  • The constant criticism from her peers started to undermine her self-confidence and belief in her abilities.

  • The hacker’s attempt to undermine the security system was detected and prevented by the IT team.

  • The negative campaign ads were designed to undermine the opponent’s credibility and sway voters’ opinions.


The word “undermine” originated from the Middle English word “undermyne,” which is a combination of “under” and “mine.” The prefix “under-” denotes being beneath or below, while the root “mine” refers to digging or excavating. When combined, these elements give rise to the concept of gradually eroding or weakening something from beneath, like undermining the foundation of a building.

Historically, the term “undermine” has been used in various contexts. In military strategy, it described the act of tunneling beneath fortifications to weaken and collapse enemy defenses. This strategy was employed during both ancient and modern warfare. Over time, the word’s usage expanded to encompass other areas beyond physical fortifications and warfare.

In contemporary usage, “undermine” is often employed to describe actions that aim to weaken or subvert institutions, relationships, or ideas. It conveys a covert or subtle approach to eroding the strength, effectiveness, or stability of something. This word is commonly used in politics, where it refers to tactics such as spreading disinformation, creating divisions, or undermining public confidence in a particular candidate or party.

The verb form of “undermine” allows for a clear conveyance of intent and outcome. It can describe intentional efforts to weaken or impair, as well as unintentional consequences that contribute to a gradual deterioration or destabilization of a situation. Whether it is used in personal relationships, organizational dynamics, or societal structures, “undermine” serves as a powerful word to describe the subtle erosion of strength or integrity.