tr.v. sub·vert·ed, sub·vert·ing, sub·verts
1. To overthrow or destroy (a government or an established order or authority). See Synonyms at overthrow.
2. To undermine, overturn, or render ineffective (a rule or an established notion, such as a stereotype, for example).
3. To cause to serve a purpose other than the original or established one; commandeer or redirect: "a short, virus-like piece of DNA that replicates itself ... by subverting the cell's DNA replication machinery" (Richard Dawkins).
4. To undermine, mislead, or betray: "Willy's batch of unexamined dreams and aspirations confused, misled, and subverted him" (Joseph Badaracco).
[Middle English subverten, from Old French subvertir, from Latin subvertere : sub-, sub- + vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.