undermine somebody's confidence

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jamsterdam, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. jamsterdam New Member

    Boston, MA
    Hi guys,

    My question is about the phrase "to undermine somebody's confidence". Does it mean "to make somebody feel less confident" or it's more like "to make somebody not feel confident at all", or it might be both?

    Thank you
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Hi Jamsterdam,

    I'm not sure there's a real distinction between your two phrases - I'm not sure there's such a thing as zero confidence, empirically recognisable.

    To undermine someone's confidence is to behave in such a way as to raise doubts in their mind if they are right, and if it's done persistently and efficiently it can make people even wonder if they are ever right. To undermine is to erode from underneath: it's a very insidious and unpleasant thing to do to someone.
  3. daylight New Member

    USA/American English
    "To undermine somebody's confidence" would be to make someone doubt themselves; therefore, I believe your first interpretation to be slightly more correct.
  4. hy003002 Member

    Alexandria, Egypt. Arabic
    Tompion's explanation is wonderful. The explanation is amazingly brief and comprehensive.
  5. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    To undermine someone's confidence = To put someone down

    Welcome to the forum, jamsterdam :)

    a.a disparaging, belittling, or snubbing remark.
    b.a remark or act intended to humiliate or embarrass someone.
    Also, putdown.

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