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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for understating
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And here I may notice, in passing, the peculiar habit of understating everything, so characteristic of Westmoreland people.

  • But is not this understating the case on the Episcopal side?

  • And when I say it puzzled me like the dickens, I am understating it; if anything.

    Right Ho, Jeeves P. G. Wodehouse
  • The fact is nobody knows, and in all probability the Spanish authorities had an interest in understating the number.

  • Perhaps after all the lawyers had done him by understating the amount his brother had left.

    Tales of Mean Streets Arthur Morrison
  • To say that Eva was in love with Reggie would be both overstating it and understating it.

    The Rubicon E. F. Benson
  • The gauge hadn't been bragging, it had been understating; the car had more speed than the instrument could register.

    The Cosmic Computer Henry Beam Piper
British Dictionary definitions for understating


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 understating



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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