un·​der·​play ˌən-dər-ˈplā How to pronounce underplay (audio)
underplayed; underplaying; underplays

intransitive verb

: to play a role with subdued force

transitive verb

: to act or present (a role, a scene, etc.) with restraint : play down
: 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 Even Steichen probably underplayed the significance of Raimann’s season. The Indianapolis Star, 30 Jan. 2024 After a table read in early 2020, the collaborators, including DiCaprio, began to fear the story underplayed the experience of the Osage people and repeated tired tropes. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Dec. 2023 Vendors - especially Ivanti - have a habit of underplaying security issues. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 5 Jan. 2024 Not to mention that the movie is busy enough on its own, which maybe meant underplaying the craziness simply for contrast. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 14 Dec. 2023 Many critics said the film, which was released in the United States and other countries in July, underplayed the devastating impact of the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, which killed as many as 210,000 people by some estimates. Washington Post Staff, Washington Post, 7 Dec. 2023 Warner expressed optimism that a later bill would pledge more funding to Ukraine but decried how many of his colleagues are underplaying the threat of Russia while at the same time expressing fears over China’s growing power. Leo Schwartz, Fortune, 3 Oct. 2023 Apart from those exclaiming kids, the cast underplays the material, which keeps things comfortable, as one familiar sort of crisis follows the last. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 4 Oct. 2023 In contrast to Bellucci, who underplays in dignified fashion, Collette works hard, very hard, to sell the concept and her character. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'underplay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1833, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of underplay was in 1833

Dictionary Entries Near underplay

Cite this Entry

“Underplay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/underplay. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​der·​play ˌən-dər-ˈplā How to pronounce underplay (audio)
: to handle carefully
especially : to play a role without much force

More from Merriam-Webster on underplay

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