Definition of underlying adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

      

    underlying

     adjective
    adjective
    NAmE//ˈʌndərˌlaɪɪŋ//
     
    [only before noun]
     
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  1. 1important in a situation but not always easily noticed or stated clearly The underlying assumption is that the amount of money available is limited. Unemployment may be an underlying cause of the rising crime rate.
  2. 2existing under the surface of something else the underlying rock formation see also underlie
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: underlying

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