un·​der·​per·​form | \ ˌən-dər-pər-ˈfȯrm , -pə-ˈfȯrm\
underperformed; underperforming; underperforms

Definition of underperform

transitive verb

: to do worse than

intransitive verb

: to fail to do as well as expected

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Other Words from underperform

underperformance \ ˌən-​dər-​pər-​ˈfȯr-​mən(t)s , -​pə-​ˈfȯr-​ \ noun
underperformer noun

Examples of underperform in a Sentence

The report shows which schools are underperforming.

Recent Examples on the Web

Research has found that socially responsible assets do underperform, though economists disagree on how much. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "“Impact investment” funds advertise great returns and social impacts. They aren’t delivering.," 18 Dec. 2018 Derek Carr may never be a true franchise quarterback, having underperformed leaguewide yards per attempt in all four of his seasons. Michael Beller, SI.com, "High-Risk, High-Reward Players for the 2018 Fantasy Football Season," 10 July 2018 The underdog angle is compelling—this team was supposed to underperform without Gordon Hayward and without Kyrie Irving. Nathaniel Friedman, GQ, "The Celtics Are The Most Likable Team Left Standing," 11 May 2018 Specifically, Buffett expects Berkshire to underperform the market during strong years for the stock market (Berkshire's stock gains are only counted at 79% -- the after-tax profit), but to outperform during so-so or down years. Matthew Frankel, USA TODAY, "Revised: Warren Buffett updates owner's manual for Berkshire Hathaway shareholders," 1 May 2018 The baseball people have underperformed for several years, partly because the owner can get too involved in their business. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: Bob Castellini still a believer, despite Cincinnati Reds 'embarrassing' April," 24 Apr. 2018 From 1950 to 2014, the stock market has underperformed, and has historically experienced much higher levels of volatility during the first nine months of a midterm election year. Erin Arvedlund, Philly.com, "Vanguard customer service issues get more attention," 2 Apr. 2018 Republicans won Tuesday’s special election in Arizona but dramatically underperformed past from GOP presidential results in the district. Nbc News Political Unit, NBC News, "Heitkamp up with first ad of 2018," 25 Apr. 2018 Amy McGrath lost in Kentucky, while Andrew Gillum underperformed his polls in Florida and Joe Donnelly lost a Senate race in Indiana. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "4 winners and 2 losers from the 2018 midterm elections," 7 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'underperform.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of underperform

1971, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for underperform

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for underperform

The first known use of underperform was in 1971

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More Definitions for underperform



Financial Definition of underperform

What It Is

The term underperform refers to an analyst recommendation that a stock is expected to do slightly worse than the overall market return.

How It Works

Analysts regularly evaluate and project stock performance.  Analysts may provide this service on behalf of a particular brokerage house, or for private clients, or even for public dissemination through reports and investment publications.    Analysts will evaluate the financial conditions of an underlying security and any competitive information available about the industry.  Based on this analysis, a stock may be described along a range from the lowest rating, "strong sell," (i.e. not expected to perform well or recover) to the highest rating, "strong buy" (i.e. big performance gains expected).  Analysts generally use the term "underperform" to refer to a stock that is fundamentally stable, but expected to perform below the market or industry sector to which the stock belongs.   The category “underperform” is alternatively referred to as "moderate sell" or "weak hold."

Why It Matters

Investors can gather valuable information from analysts' recommendations about particular stocks.  Not all analysts' recommendations are consistent or based on the same measures of a company's activities or expected performance.  Understanding and weighing varying recommendations is an important part of an investor's work.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of underperform

: to be less successful than expected or required

Comments on underperform

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a servile follower or underling

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