un·​der·​state | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstāt \
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

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Other Words from understate

understatement \ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstāt-​mənt \ noun

Examples of understate in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

Diipa wanted a big celebration with both a traditional Indian ceremony and a European one, while Oleg had something smaller and understated in mind. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Influencer Diipa Khosla Wore 9 Different Looks for Her 4-Day Indian Wedding," 8 Feb. 2019 The Duchess paired her lilac look with an Aspinal of London crocodile bag, suede court heels from Gianvito Rossi, and understated jewelry by Mapping & Webb. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Just Re-Wore Her Favorite Lavender Emilia Wickstead Dress at the First Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit," 9 Oct. 2018 And what is more romantic than a nicely understated nude? Allure, "Bite Beauty's Astrology Lipstick for Leo Is an Attention-Grabbing Glittery Gold," 19 July 2018 Planners and developers seemed to ignore, miscalculate or understate the problems likely to arise once a project got underway. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Here's why Detroit development takes so long," 11 July 2018 The home’s interior, with its vaulted ceilings and white walls, almost feels understated compared to its natural surroundings, and manages simplicity without being austere. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "Minimalist home with jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain views asks $16.9M," 26 July 2018 Since the survey results are self-reported, there’s a chance people are overstating or understating their knowledge of bots. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Most Americans say they can’t tell the difference between a social media bot and a human," 15 Oct. 2018 The long-term, devastating effects of surviving such a traumatic event cannot be understated. Danielle Campoamor, Cosmopolitan, "Survivors Will Change This Country, But They Shouldn't Have To," 20 Feb. 2018 If anything, Gallup’s findings understate levels of support for gun control: When people are asked about specific policies, support climbs to the 70s and 80s. German Lopez, Vox, "How the Parkland shooting changed America’s gun debate," 26 Dec. 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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Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for understate

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for understate

Spanish Central: Translation of understate

Nglish: Translation of understate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on understate

What made you want to look up understate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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