Definition of underlie in English:

underlie

verbunderlain, underlying, underlay, underlies

[with object]
  • 1(especially of a layer of rock or soil) lie or be situated under (something)

    ‘limestone underlies much of the site’
    • ‘Bangkok is located on a floodplain composed of deltaic deposits, including the well-known soft Bangkok clay, underlain by alternating layers of clays and sands that extend to depths of more than 1,000 m.’
    • ‘If the cracks extend deep enough, the seawater can come into contact with mantle rocks that underlie the crust.’
    • ‘It lies within the discordantly aligned Balygychan-Sugoi basin, which is underlain by volcanic rocks and carbonaceous molasses that cover the Verkhoyansk terrigenous rocks.’
    • ‘The interior of the basin is underlain by the Quaternary floodplain deposits and terraces associated with the Mae Ping River.’
    • ‘Colchester in Essex, where London clay underlies the estuaries, was the home of the renowned Pyfleet oysters.’
    • ‘The rock underlying the ruins was limestone and, as a result, the soil was thin and dry.’
    • ‘The Yucatán peninsula is underlain by limestone and evidently rose from the sea in ancient times.’
    • ‘Large expanses of boreal forest and tundra are underlain by permafrost, a layer of permanently frozen soil found underneath the active, seasonally thawed soil.’
    • ‘Furthermore, in cultivated soils, dense compact subsoils frequently underlie the loosened topsoil.’
    • ‘The plants were growing from several fissures in the mafic bedrock that underlies the creek.’
    • ‘Poor drainage areas are most notable in the lands underlain by older metamorphic rocks of the Klamath Mountains to the south.’
    • ‘Much of this zone is underlain by permafrost and is the most southern Subarctic barrens in the world.’
    • ‘The soil that underlies much of Dublin was deposited during the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago.’
    • ‘The ground is underlain by permafrost, a layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year and that may extend deep into the earth (in Siberia, it has been reported at a depth of 4,757 feet).’
    • ‘The Adirondack Mountains, in the northern part of the study area, are an exception in that they are largely underlain by crystalline rock.’
    • ‘Canadian vineyards are planted on a wide variety of soil types underlain by diverse bedrock geology.’
    • ‘For example, many shorefaces - the dynamic zones between the continental shelf and the beach - are not simply surfaces of sand but rather are underlain by rock or mud.’
    • ‘Most of the mowed fields in the central part of the park are underlain with soil.’
    • ‘Steep slopes underlain by stony soils form appealing vineyard sites, but they can be susceptible to rapid soil erosion during storms.’
    dormant, quiescent, inactive, untapped, unused
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  • 2Be the cause or basis of (something)

    ‘the fundamental issue which underlies the conflict’
    ‘the underlying causes of poverty and drug addiction’
    • ‘When we get to the appeal, let us focus on the issues that underlie the appeal.’
    • ‘Political motivations most likely underlie this transformation of tradition.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think that is a reasonably accurate statement of the real issue and it underlies this particular case.’
    • ‘Controversial social and political issues underlay these emotional exchanges.’
    • ‘Perhaps that is the conflict that underlies his and my shared anger.’
    • ‘The discussions are open and frank, and the importance of obeying the game laws underlies all possible strategies.’
    • ‘I think what underlies this is a fundamental problem with the movie.’
    • ‘This is the underlying issue which campaigners agree must be tackled in years to come.’
    • ‘Well let me take the larger issue that I think underlies the question.’
    • ‘Instead, I would like to focus on a few recurring issues that seem to underlie discussions.’
    • ‘This issue increasingly underlies our economic and environmental problems.’
    • ‘One should not focus on the media attention at the expense of the underlying issue.’
    • ‘The authors' analysis does a great deal to clarify the ethical issues that underlie these intuitive distinctions.’
    • ‘While he focuses on the kiwi dollar, he shows how the underlying issues are global.’
    • ‘If justiciability is the real issue underlying these terms then this should be faced directly.’
    • ‘However, the central thought which underlies them is simple, though it can be expressed in a number of different ways.’
    • ‘Before examining the case law it may be helpful to understand the central issues which underlie this area.’
    • ‘It also details the various technical aspects of the project and highlights the principal distributional conflict that underlay the reform process.’
    • ‘We will hold informal meetings to try and tease out the underlying issues.’
    fundamental, basic, basal, primary, prime, first, cardinal, central, principal, chief, key, elementary, elemental, rudimentary, root, intrinsic, essential
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Origin

Old English underlicgan ‘be subject or subordinate to’ (see under-, lie).

Pronunciation

underlie

/ʌndəˈlʌɪ/