Definition of underlie in English:


Syllabification: un·der·lie
Pronunciation: /ˌəndərˈlī

verb (underlies, underlying; past underlay; past participle underlain)

[with object]
1(Especially of a layer of rock or soil) lie or be situated under (something).
More example sentences
  • Most of the mowed fields in the central part of the park are underlain with soil.
  • Canadian vineyards are planted on a wide variety of soil types underlain by diverse bedrock geology.
  • Steep slopes underlain by stony soils form appealing vineyard sites, but they can be susceptible to rapid soil erosion during storms.
1.1Be the cause or basis of (something): the fundamental issue that underlies the conflict (as adjective underlying) the underlying causes of poverty and drug addiction
More example sentences
  • Well let me take the larger issue that I think underlies the question.
  • But I suspect that what underlies these concerns is a deeper fear about the loss of a sort of stability in the region which they helped craft and maintain.
  • If justiciability is the real issue underlying these terms then this should be faced directly.


Old English underlicgan 'be subject or subordinate to' (see under-, lie1).

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