Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To destroy completely; ruin: "schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community” ( Alexander Hamilton).
  • transitive v. To undermine the character, morals, or allegiance of; corrupt.
  • transitive v. To overthrow completely: "Economic assistance ... must subvert the existing ... feudal or tribal order” ( Henry A. Kissinger). See Synonyms at overthrow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An advertisement created by subvertising.
  • v. To overturn from the foundation; to overthrow; to ruin utterly.
  • v. To pervert, as the mind, and turn it from the truth; to corrupt; to confound.
  • v. To upturn convention from the foundation by undermining it (literally, to turn from beneath).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To overthrow anything from the foundation; to be subversive.
  • transitive v. To overturn from the foundation; to overthrow; to ruin utterly.
  • transitive v. To pervert, as the mind, and turn it from the truth; to corrupt; to confound.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To overthrow; overturn; ruin utterly; destroy.
  • Synonyms Overthrow, Invert, etc. See overturn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cause the downfall of; of rulers
  • v. destroy property or hinder normal operations
  • v. corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality
  • v. destroy completely

Etymologies

Middle English subverten, from Old French subvertir, from Latin subvertere : sub-, sub- + vertere, to turn.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English subverten, from Latin subvertō ("to overthrow", literally "to underturn, turn from beneath"). (Wiktionary)
Back-formation from subvertising, by analogy with advert. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I'm more of the 'likes to subvert from the inside' kind of guy.

    Cancer sucks

  • It is possible that leaderless 5GW will included meme-driven individuals infiltrating cultural institutions with the intent to long-term subvert them and redirect them to opposite goals.

    Cultural Institution Infiltration: 5GW Technique with Example « PurpleSlog – Awesomeness & Modesty Meets Sexy

  • To subvert is not the aim of literature, its value lies in discovering and revealing what is rarely known, little known, thought to be known but in fact not very well known of the truth of the human world.

    Nobel Lecture - Literature 2000

  • The idea that transgender identities and expression subvert the gender binary did much to increase transgender-inclusion within feminist and queer spaces.

    Life, Law, Gender

  • By the first, Drucker seems to mean the incorporation of images, motifs, and sensibilities from mass culture only to "subvert" these references by using them to implicitly critique the insipidity of mass culture.

    Art and Culture

  • My use of modal notions in triadology cannot be said to "subvert" a doctrine whose relevant sense, never mind whose normativity, hasn't even been established.

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • And if indeed it is a consequence of the teaching thus denominated that necessity is not "predicable of God ad intra," then I can indeed be said to "subvert" that teaching too.

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • ADDED: Andrew Sullivan endorses voting for Sanjaya on the vote for the worst concept because he wants to "subvert" the "far too self-important show."

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • Thus, I would guess such a system would devolve into a bridge burning wasteland as everyone signs up to the "subvert" faction.

    Virtual (Wikipediac) Worlds?

  • He blamed the country's economic crisis on a white plot and accused Western embassies here of trying to "subvert" his regime.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

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