Definition of underplay in English:



[with object]
  • 1Perform (something) in a restrained way.

    ‘the violins underplayed the romantic element in the music’
    • ‘It required that I act just ‘perfect’, overacting or even underplaying the role would have ruined the effect of the film.’
    • ‘The mob scenes and concert craziness are actually underplayed, since no one would really believe the kind of mass frenzy the group created.’
    • ‘He wisely underplays his role, evoking a man of deep contradictions.’
    • ‘She is suitably endearing, though that is due to her natural looks and good sense in underplaying her role.’
    • ‘In the title role, he underplays the part nicely.’
    • ‘The more she underplays her singing, the better the results.’
    • ‘This is no different; the guy just knows how to underplay a role and spit out brilliant one-liners.’
    • ‘Owen has a tendency to underplay his roles - an approach that serves him well here.’
    • ‘Despite its subject matter, the film is unsentimental and avoids the conventions of melodrama, with some of the most intense scenes being quietly underplayed and restrained.’
    • ‘A strong script, able direction, and a stellar cast who underplay their roles make it very worthy of at least a rental.’
    • ‘She never overplays her role nor underplays it - in essence, she was the perfect choice for this role and makes a stunning cinematic debut.’
    • ‘He is a master of understatement; all of his actors underplay their parts.’
    • ‘He underplays the role at times, but really gives the movie a boost when he is on screen.’
    • ‘She doesn't rely on the standard femme fatale clichés, but underplays the role.’
    • ‘The rest of the cast either underplays their role or overplays it to the point of being far too cartoonish.’
    • ‘He underplays the role, but that is what was required.’
    minimization, trivialization, euphemism
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  • 2Represent (something) as being less important than it really is.

    ‘I do not wish to underplay the tragedies that have occurred’
    • ‘His laid-back attitude possibly disguises some internal strife for there is no underplaying the importance of every point won and lost at this stage.’
    • ‘‘Only a fool would underplay the important role you played in our history,’ he said.’
    • ‘‘We shouldn't underplay the role celebrities play in the development of young people,’ he said.’
    • ‘However, one should never underplay the romantic potential of the Internet.’
    • ‘Oddly, the report tried to underplay these important factors.’
    • ‘And yet, we believe that these movements have tended to underplay or even deny a very important dimension of human life - the spiritual dimension.’
    • ‘The film's greatest strength is that it takes classic elements like perpetual rainfall and creepy subterranean settings and underplays them.’
    • ‘The point is important and is sometimes underplayed; it is well made in this volume too.’
    • ‘I knew he'd underplay the role he's had in the project.’
    • ‘More than anyone else, Bobby himself would wish to underplay his disability and to concentrate on his achievements, for that is really what is important to him.’
    make light of, make little of, make nothing of, set little store by, set no store by, gloss over, de-emphasize, underemphasize, downplay, understate, underplay, minimize, shrug off
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