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 That would be a little less than 10 percent of the state’s labor force, and the figure is likely understated as many have been unable to file claims due to phone line and website backlogs. Houston Chronicle, "March employment data shows Texas economy shed most jobs in single month since Great Recession," 17 Apr. 2020 But for the most part Mandel’s language is understated, fading almost invisibly to serve the familiar pleasures of character and plot. Ruth Franklin, The Atlantic, "The Art of Second Chances," 16 Mar. 2020 The thick and doughy crust was one of our faves, but the sauce and cheese are understated. cleveland, "We ate 130 frozen pizzas and ranked them, worst to best; Nos. 1-2 made by same company," 10 Mar. 2020 But Greta Thunberg was understated when reflecting on her year. Time, "2019: Greta Thunberg," 5 Mar. 2020 Her rendition was understated and elegant, if almost too unsentimental (Paul McCartney, who played and sang the original version, is perhaps the world’s greatest living example of how pure sentiment can be deployed to staggering ends). Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Eminem’s Unexpected Cameo at the 2020 Oscars," 10 Feb. 2020 Moreover, because the precinct is not contributing any votes to the total candidate votes on the initial preference ballot the statewide percentages for candidates doing well in this precinct also will be understated. NBC News, "NBC News review of Iowa caucus vote finds potential errors, inconsistencies," 7 Feb. 2020 Toronto’s impact on the music scene can’t be understated. Malcolm-aimé Musoni, EW.com, "JoJo on releasing Good to Know album during COVID-19: ‘Music is not meant for us to hoard'," 1 May 2020 Playing with his college teammate in Murray can’t be understated. Duane Rankin, azcentral, "Buyer beware: Will Arizona Cardinals pass on a lineman for wide receiver with first pick?," 22 Apr. 2020

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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The first known use of understate was in 1824

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Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Understate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/understate. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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How to pronounce understate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of understate

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

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