Definition of underplay in US English:



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

    ‘the violins underplayed the romantic element in the music’
    • ‘He underplays the role at times, but really gives the movie a boost when he is on screen.’
    • ‘He wisely underplays his role, evoking a man of deep contradictions.’
    • ‘This is no different; the guy just knows how to underplay a role and spit out brilliant one-liners.’
    • ‘The more she underplays her singing, the better the results.’
    • ‘She never overplays her role nor underplays it - in essence, she was the perfect choice for this role and makes a stunning cinematic debut.’
    • ‘A strong script, able direction, and a stellar cast who underplay their roles make it very worthy of at least a rental.’
    • ‘In the title role, he underplays the part nicely.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She is suitably endearing, though that is due to her natural looks and good sense in underplaying her role.’
    • ‘It required that I act just ‘perfect’, overacting or even underplaying the role would have ruined the effect of the film.’
    • ‘Owen has a tendency to underplay his roles - an approach that serves him well here.’
    • ‘The mob scenes and concert craziness are actually underplayed, since no one would really believe the kind of mass frenzy the group created.’
    • ‘He underplays the role, but that is what was required.’
    • ‘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 is a master of understatement; all of his actors underplay their parts.’
    minimization, trivialization, euphemism
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    1. 1.1 Represent (something) as being less important than it actually is.
      ‘I do not wish to underplay the tragedies that have occurred’
      • ‘However, one should never underplay the romantic potential of the Internet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘We shouldn't underplay the role celebrities play in the development of young people,’ he said.’
      • ‘The point is important and is sometimes underplayed; it is well made in this volume too.’
      • ‘And yet, we believe that these movements have tended to underplay or even deny a very important dimension of human life - the spiritual dimension.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Only a fool would underplay the important role you played in our history,’ he said.’
      • ‘I knew he'd underplay the role he's had in the project.’
      • ‘Oddly, the report tried to underplay these important factors.’
      • ‘The film's greatest strength is that it takes classic elements like perpetual rainfall and creepy subterranean settings and underplays them.’
      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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