un·​der·​play | \ ˌən-dər-ˈplā How to pronounce underplay (audio) \
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 And just why would mainstream media have incentive to underplay the Sanders campaign’s energy? Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "The story behind new Bernie Sanders documentary," 16 May 2020 The actual extent of the pandemic is likely to be significantly higher due to mild infections that are missed, limited testing, problems counting the dead and some nations' desires to underplay the extent of their outbreaks. The Christian Science Monitor, "Tensions rise over economic freedom vs. global public safety," 19 Apr. 2020 During the first half of January, when Chinese officials were underplaying the severity of the outbreak, no travelers from China were screened for potential exposure to the virus. Steve Eder, New York Times, "430,000 People Have Traveled From China to U.S. Since Coronavirus Surfaced," 4 Apr. 2020 Experts say both greatly under-count the true number of victims because of lack of testing, mild cases that were missed and governments that are underplaying the crisis. Author: Jennifer Peltz, Amy Forliti, David Rising, Anchorage Daily News, "New York gets Chinese ventilators as Oregon pledges 140 more," 5 Apr. 2020 Experts say both greatly under-count the true number of victims because of lack of testing, mild cases that were missed, and governments that are underplaying the crisis. Jennifer Peltz, BostonGlobe.com, "New York gets ventilators in China; Trump wants more thanks," 4 Apr. 2020 Experts say both numbers are seriously under-counted, due to the lack of testing, mild cases that were missed and governments that are deliberately underplaying the impact of the pandemic. Mike Rose, cleveland, "Latest coronavirus updates: Europe’s hospitals bow under the weight of pandemic crush," 3 Apr. 2020 In the name of national unity, the jokes often underplayed, and downplayed. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Quarantine Is Changing the Way We Laugh," 2 Apr. 2020 There is no evidence that Swedes are underplaying the enormity of the disease rampaging across the globe. New York Times, "In the Coronavirus Fight in Scandinavia, Sweden Stands Apart," 24 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for underplay

Time Traveler

The first known use of underplay was in 1833

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Statistics for underplay

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Underplay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/underplay. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for underplay


How to pronounce underplay (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of underplay

: to make (something) seem less important than it actually is : to give too little attention to (something)
disapproving : to show too little emotion when acting in a play, movie, etc.

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