Definition of underplay in US English:



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

    ‘the violins underplayed the romantic element in the music’
    • ‘He is a master of understatement; all of his actors underplay their parts.’
    • ‘He underplays the role, but that is what was required.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Owen has a tendency to underplay his roles - an approach that serves him well here.’
    • ‘She doesn't rely on the standard femme fatale clichés, but underplays the role.’
    • ‘The mob scenes and concert craziness are actually underplayed, since no one would really believe the kind of mass frenzy the group created.’
    • ‘This is no different; the guy just knows how to underplay a role and spit out brilliant one-liners.’
    • ‘He wisely underplays his role, evoking a man of deep contradictions.’
    • ‘The rest of the cast either underplays their role or overplays it to the point of being far too cartoonish.’
    • ‘A strong script, able direction, and a stellar cast who underplay their roles make it very worthy of at least a rental.’
    • ‘He underplays the role at times, but really gives the movie a boost when he is on screen.’
    • ‘In the title role, he underplays the part nicely.’
    • ‘She never overplays her role nor underplays it - in essence, she was the perfect choice for this role and makes a stunning cinematic debut.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The more she underplays her singing, the better the results.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Only a fool would underplay the important role you played in our history,’ he said.’
      • ‘Oddly, the report tried to underplay these important factors.’
      • ‘‘We shouldn't underplay the role celebrities play in the development of young people,’ he said.’
      • ‘The film's greatest strength is that it takes classic elements like perpetual rainfall and creepy subterranean settings and underplays them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, one should never underplay the romantic potential of the Internet.’
      • ‘I knew he'd underplay the role he's had in the project.’
      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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