understatement

noun
un·der·state·ment | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstāt-mənt \
plural understatements

Definition of understatement 

1 : a statement that represents something as smaller or less intense, or less important than it really is : a statement that understates something To say that I was surprised by this outcome would be an understatement. I was completely blindsided …. —Russ Becker It is an understatement to say that the Internet has made life far more convenient for staggeringly many people. —Cass R. Sunstein also : the act of understating something or the practice of making such statements understatement of population growth To say Britain isn't good at coping with snow would be to exercise British understatement. —Catherine Mayer We have been taught to value terseness and understatement —Irving Howe

2 : the avoidance of obvious emphasis or embellishment : an understated condition, appearance, etc. Sure, glamour is still the operative word regarding fashion, but where flamboyance once ruled, there is now understatement and classic elegance.Premiere He capitalizes on his reputation for understatement by saving huge sonorities for significant occasions; as a result, his rare musical outbursts seem not so much theatrical as visceral, as if they were blows sustained in real time. —Alex Ross

First Known Use of understatement

1799 , in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about understatement

Share understatement

Phrases Related to understatement

the understatement of the year

Statistics for understatement

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for understatement

The first known use of understatement was in 1799

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for understatement

understatement

noun
un·der·state·ment | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstāt-mənt \

Kids Definition of understatement

: a statement that makes something seem smaller or less important or serious than it really is

More from Merriam-Webster on understatement

Spanish Central: Translation of understatement

Nglish: Translation of understatement for Spanish Speakers

Comments on understatement

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!