un·​der·​state | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstāt How to pronounce understate (audio) \
understated; understating; understates

Definition of understate

transitive verb

1 : to represent as less than is the case understate taxable income
2 : to state or present with restraint especially for effect

Examples of understate in a Sentence

He understated his taxable income. She's trying to understate the issue.

Recent Examples on the Web

Rainbirds, by Clarissa Goenawan: A murder mystery and a family drama in one, this book is as beautiful as it is understated. Kepler’s Books, San Francisco Chronicle, "Recommendations from Kepler’s Books," 12 Apr. 2018 And the trust factor here to both of you, gentlemen, cannot be understated more. Fox News, "Sarah Smith aims to be the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," 1 Aug. 2018 Like Max Mara’s classic coats, the BAI (Biblioteca e Archivio di Impresa), as this sartorial Louvre is officially called, is understated but formidable. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Beyond Nancy Pelosi's Power Coat: Inside Max Mara's Fashion Museum," 29 Jan. 2019 But South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s understated but skillful outreach and engagement with Kim should get a lot of the credit. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Save the date for the Trump-Kim summit," 11 May 2018 The message, so far, has been relatively understated: Office 365 enables these features, while Office 2019 does not. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft dismisses Office 2019 as old and dumb in videos promoting Office 365 subscriptions," 6 Feb. 2019 Moschino Spring 2018 Jeremy Scott doesn’t do understated. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "In Honor of Beyoncé’s September Cover, the Best Floral Headpieces on the Runway," 7 Aug. 2018 The dining room is understated, with a few puppets and framed kalaga (embroidered tapestries) on the walls. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "Burmese Cuisine, a New York Rarity, at Rangoon Spoon," 24 May 2018 Biggs asserted last year that Americans' retirement income is consistently and appreciably understated, citing research by two Census Bureau economists. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Income inequality is going to hit tomorrow's retirees hard," 22 May 2018

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

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for understate

Last Updated

26 May 2019

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The first known use of understate was in 1824

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English Language Learners Definition of understate

: to say that (something) is smaller, less important, etc., than it really is

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More from Merriam-Webster on understate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with understate

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Spanish Central: Translation of understate

Nglish: Translation of understate for Spanish Speakers

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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