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[uhn-der-steyt-muh nt, uhn-der-steyt-] /ˌʌn dərˈsteɪt mənt, ˈʌn dərˌsteɪt-/
the act or an instance of understating, or representing in a weak or restrained way that is not borne out by the facts:
The journalist wrote that the earthquake had caused some damage. This turned out to be a massive understatement of the devastation.
Origin of understatement Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for understatement
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I perceived Wenceslaus, in a moment of understatement, to be more than a little disaffected.

    The Land of Look Behind Paul Cameron Brown
  • Taken literally, however, it was an understatement of the facts and wholly insincere.

    Penrod Booth Tarkington
  • The dryness in his tone was a paragraph of comment on my understatement.

    Lone Star Planet Henry Beam Piper and John Joseph McGuire
  • Many times was an understatement, Latham thought wretchedly.

    One Purple Hope! Henry Hasse
  • He is given rather to understatement than overstatement of facts—a cool, level-headed observer.

    The U-boat hunters James B. Connolly
British Dictionary definitions for understatement


the act or an instance of stating something in restrained terms, or as 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 understatement

1799, from under + statement. Understated, with reference to clothing, is recorded from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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understatement in Culture

understatement definition

A form of irony in which something is intentionally represented as less than it is: “Hank Aaron was a pretty good ball player.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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