The central idea ____ the observed structure

If central idea didn't exist or was taken out of the equation, the observed structure would no longer be observed.

I would like to use cornerstones, mainstays, etc. as verbs, but preferably an established word that has the same meaning: the subject is foundational to the object.

"support" doesn't work well enough because I also want to connote the idea that as soon as you remove the subject, the object totally falls apart, Jenga tower or house-of-cards style. Remove a table leg and watch the table fall over. Support doesn't imply absolute necessity.

I would prefer a single word to a compound word like props-up, and something with more gravitas: cornerstone, mainstay, keystone, foundation, sound so powerful, huge, and significant. But "props-up" sounds like a ramshackle job.

  • Is it the idea that binds your structure together? Oct 27, 2021 at 21:19
  • @YosefBaskin no, it's just one of the table legs, or one of the cards, or one of the jenga bricks. Not the glue.
    – minseong
    Oct 27, 2021 at 21:49
  • 1
    For a verb that can be used as a noun, try anchor. Oct 27, 2021 at 21:57
  • Try Variety.com, the online version of Variety. Hollywood has so many kingpins (and kingpin wannabes paying for ad space) that Variety writers had to get quite creative with their wording. It’s tamer than it used to be, but still a rich source of words and expressions.
    – user205876
    Oct 28, 2021 at 6:14

2 Answers 2


The word underpin is primarily used to mean supporting a building from underneath, but can also apply to organisational structures. Lexico has


1 Support (a building or other structure) from below by laying a solid foundation below ground level or by substituting stronger for weaker materials.
At present, it is not thought that underpinning the foundations would be enough to save the building

2 Support, justify, or form the basis for.
The idea of fairness that underpins the democratic process is grounded in different ways in different theories.

So the sentence could be

The central idea underpinned the observed structure.

This conveys that the 'central idea' is essential for the 'observed structure' to exist, and the association with buildings and foundations gives it solidity.

  • 1
    Similarly undergird Oct 27, 2021 at 23:58

The central idea upholds the observed structure.

uphold (v.)

To support or sustain physically; to keep from falling or sinking.

To support, sustain, maintain, by aid or assistance; to preserve unimpaired or intact. OED

Racial discrimination denies equality and thus undermines the structure which that cornerstone upholds. US Commission on Civil Rights; Housing in Washington

In a building the base upholds the pillars, and the pillars uphold the entire structure; this is what the church is to God. The Collected Works of Witness Lee, Vol. 1

To take this road, every member of the Jewish People must have a sense of historic destiny continuing through him; he must feel that he is the last remaining pillar which upholds the entire structure of Judaism. Irvin Bunim; Ethics from Sinai

Kapha has its main function in the structure, cohesion, and lubrication of the body. Kapha holds together the tissues, jonts, neck, chest, and head, to name a few. By and large, kapha upholds the entire body and gives you the structure and foundation you have. Varsha Khatri; Think Healthy, Choose Healthy.

The dam consists of the entire structure which upholds the pond, and extends to and includes the first lock. Wisconsin Supreme Court; Wisconsin Reports

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.