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foun·der 1

v. foun·dered, foun·der·ing, foun·ders
1. To sink below the surface of the water: The ship struck a reef and foundered.
2. To cave in; sink: The platform swayed and then foundered.
3. To fail utterly; collapse: a marriage that soon foundered.
4. To stumble, especially to stumble and go lame. Used of horses.
5. To become ill from overeating. Used of livestock.
6. To be afflicted with laminitis. Used of horses.
To cause to founder: A large wave foundered the boat.

[Middle English foundren, to sink to the ground, from Old French fondrer, from Vulgar Latin *funderāre, from *fundus, *funder-, bottom, from Latin fundus, fund-.]
Usage Note: The verbs founder and flounder are often confused. Founder comes from a Latin word meaning "bottom" (as in foundation) and originally referred to knocking enemies down; it is now also used to mean "to fail utterly, collapse." Flounder means "to move clumsily, thrash about," and hence "to proceed in confusion." If John is foundering in Chemistry 101, he had better drop the course; if he is floundering, he may yet pull through.

found·er 2

One who establishes something or formulates the basis for something: the founder of a university.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.foundering - (of a ship) sinking
ship - a vessel that carries passengers or freight
sinking - a descent as through liquid (especially through water); "they still talk about the sinking of the Titanic"
References in classic literature ?
This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog --in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn; but changing his manner towards the concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy -- The ribs and terrors in the whale, Arched over me a dismal gloom, While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by, And lift me deepening down to doom.
Some were condensing air into a dry tangible substance, by extracting the nitre, and letting the aqueous or fluid particles percolate; others softening marble, for pillows and pin-cushions; others petrifying the hoofs of a living horse, to preserve them from foundering.
They were in shallow water; the vessel struck repeatedly, the waves broke over her, and there was danger of her foundering.