Definition of underlie in English:

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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).
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.
fundamental, basic, primary, prime, central, principal, root, chief, cardinal, key, elementary, intrinsic, essential


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

Words that rhyme with underlie

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: un·der·lie

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