un·​der·​play | \ˌən-dər-ˈplā \
underplayed; underplaying; underplays

Definition of underplay 

intransitive verb

: to play a role with subdued force

transitive verb

1 : to act or present (a role, a scene, etc.) with restraint : play down

2 : to play a card lower than (a held high card)

Examples of underplay in a Sentence

Don't underplay the importance of exercise. I thought she underplayed her character.

Recent Examples on the Web

Israel has long had a tense relationship with the council, accusing it of unfair bias while ignoring or underplaying rights violations by other countries — including its own members. Washington Post, "After US, Israel also backs away from UN human rights body," 22 June 2018 Backed by a strong industry, alcohol’s dangers may be underplayed and its benefits exaggerated. Christina Mair, Philly.com, "Alcohol kills many more Americans than opioids do. Why do we think drinking is healthy?," 9 July 2018 Marcello Mastroianni plays the director, underplaying with grasp and power. James Powers, The Hollywood Reporter, "'8 ½': THR's 1963 Review," 26 June 2018 Ethan Hawke is brilliant, restrained, underplaying the battle inside. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Ethan Hawke is brilliant in Paul Schrader's 'First Reformed'," 24 May 2018 Riggio, known to all as Len, is underplaying for effect, and the barest hint of a smile creeps onto his face. Ted Loos, WSJ, "The Hamptons Oasis That Barnes & Noble Built," 24 May 2018 Senator: State Department underplaying Mexico risk Johnson, Baldwin demand action on Mexico blackouts A look at the Mexico area where Iowa family diedThe region in Mexico where an Iowa family was found dead is a coastal resort full of coral reefs. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mexico resort blackouts investigation - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," 15 May 2018 As his out-of-work dad, Jim Belushi amps down his typical bluster, even underplaying at times. Chris Kaltenbach, baltimoresun.com, "'Sollers Point' offers understanding without resolution, and that's fine," 10 May 2018 Trump's rush to claim credit for the opening also underplays the contribution of other key players. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump deserves credit for Korean thaw," 27 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'underplay.' 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 underplay

1833, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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Statistics for underplay

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for underplay

The first known use of underplay was in 1833

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English Language Learners Definition of underplay

: to make (something) seem less important than it actually is : to give too little attention to (something)

: to show too little emotion when acting in a play, movie, etc.

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Comments on underplay

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by force of circumstances

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