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[uhn-der-steyt] /ˌʌn dərˈsteɪt/
verb (used with object), understated, understating.
to state or represent less strongly or strikingly than the facts would bear out; set forth in restrained, moderate, or weak terms:
The casualty lists understate the extent of the disaster.
Origin of understate
First recorded in 1815-25; under- + state
Related forms
[uhn-der-steyt-muh nt, uhn-der-steyt-] /ˌʌn dərˈsteɪt mənt, ˈʌn dərˌsteɪt-/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for understate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To say that Ailie was delighted, would be to understate the fact very much.

    The Red Eric R.M. Ballantyne
  • To say that they were dishes for a king is to understate the fact.

    Allied Cookery

    Grace Glergue Harrison and Gertrude Clergue
  • The effect of this will be to understate my argument rather than the contrary.

    A Revision of the Treaty John Maynard Keynes
  • I have been careful rather to understate than exaggerate the case.

    'I Believe' and other essays Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • To say it blew with the force of ten thousand devils is to understate the case.

  • To say that he ill-used her in his lifetime is to understate a truth.

    Two on a Tower Thomas Hardy
British Dictionary definitions for understate


to state (something) in restrained terms, often to obtain an ironic effect
to state that (something, such as a number) is less than it is
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for understate

1824, from under + state (v.). Related: Understated (of fashions, etc., from 1957); understating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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