Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To assume financial responsibility for; guarantee against failure: underwrite a theatrical production.
  • transitive v. To sign (an insurance policy) so as to assume liability in case of specified losses.
  • transitive v. To insure.
  • transitive v. To insure against losses totaling (a given amount).
  • transitive v. To guarantee the purchase of (a full issue of stocks or bonds).
  • transitive v. To agree to buy the unsold part of (stock not yet sold publicly) at a fixed time and price.
  • transitive v. To write under or at the end of something.
  • transitive v. To subscribe to, especially to sign or endorse (a document).
  • transitive v. To support or agree to (a decision, for example).
  • intransitive v. To act as an underwriter, especially to issue an insurance policy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To write below or under; subscribe.
  • v. To subscribe (a document, policy etc.) with one's name.
  • v. To sign; to put one's name to.
  • v. To agree to pay by signing one's name; subscribe.
  • v. Specifically, to assume financial responsibility for something, and guarantee it against failure.
  • v. To act as an underwriter.
  • v. To support, lend support to, guarantee the basis of.
  • v. To submit to; put up with.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To practice the business of insuring; to take a risk of insurance on a vessel or the like.
  • transitive v. To write under something else; to subscribe.
  • transitive v. To subscribe one's name to for insurance, especially for marine insurance; to write one's name under, or set one's name to, as a policy of insurance, for the purpose of becoming answerable for loss or damage, on consideration of receiving a certain premium per cent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To write below or under; subscribe.
  • To agree to pay by signing one's name; subscribe.
  • Specifically To agree or undertake by setting one's name to (a policy of insurance) to become answerable for certain losses specified therein: used chiefly in marine insurance. Hence underwriter.
  • To submit to; put up with.
  • To practise insuring, particularly marine insuring; carry on the business of an underwriter.

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

  • v. guarantee financial support of
  • v. protect by insurance

Etymologies

From Middle English underwriten, from Old English underwrītan ("to write at the foot of, write under, subscribe"), equivalent to under- +‎ write. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • If it is not fully subscribed, they will get all that they have asked for, and the balance left over will be taken up in most cases by a syndicate formed by the bank or firm that issued the loan, to "underwrite" it.

    International Finance

  • The same Board member told Slugger O'Toole Mr Baggott in no sense gave any commitment to 'underwrite' anyone's job when the current full time reserves leave the PSNI.

    Slugger O'Toole

  • Let me elaborate on why individual investors should never sell / "underwrite" financial options / insurance:

    Tan Kin Lian's Blog

  • This was left as a comment to the original post where I mistakenly assumed that Abacus tossed the DMA a few bucks to underwrite the survey --- my error in assuming what the term "underwrite" meant:

    Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData

  • The BoE does "underwrite" to the extent that a bank in the process of swapping what you describe as their IOUs in the interbank settlement process* comes up short due to perversely high outflows vs inflows i.e. it has insufficient cash reserves lodged at the BoE to make good on those obligations caused by account activity and other banks will not lend that bank overnight money, then the BoE will do so to enable all IOUs to be honoured and the system to remain viable.

    My Libertarian Values #2 - The Economy

  • "underwrite" (guarantee the sale of) stock and bond issues, trade for their own accounts, make markets, and advise corporations on capital market activities such as mergers and acquisitions.

    Recently Uploaded Slideshows

  • The rest would underwrite research by scientists at the NIH's Bethesda campus and hospital.

    Budget 2012: NIH and CDC

  • University Library Director Robert Darnton announced that, initially, Arcadia's grant will be used to strengthen the Library's print collections, to support processing of 17th - and 18th-century collections in the Archives, and to underwrite conservation treatments for fragile or damaged material from 17th - and 18th-century collections.

    Arcadia gives $5 million to support core collections, services in the Harvard Libraries

  • These companies have long depended upon advertisers of consumer products, services and causes to underwrite their business, and that advertising cost has been passed on in the final cost of the product or service.

    Free information has a cost

  • No banks were ever forced by any law to underwrite loans that they could not afford.

    Think Progress » Brown wins Massachusetts special election; Coakley concedes.

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