low-key

[ loh-kee ]
/ ˈloʊˈki /

adjective Also low-keyed.

of reduced intensity; restrained; understated.
(of a photograph) having chiefly dark tones, usually with little tonal contrast (distinguished from high-key).

verb (used with object), low-keyed, low-key·ing.

to make or attempt to make low-key: to low-key the arms buildup.

Origin of low-key

First recorded in 1890–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for low key

low-key

low-keyed


adjective

having a low intensity or tone
restrained, subdued, or understated
(of a photograph, painting, etc) having a predominance of dark grey tones or dark colours with few highlightsCompare high-key
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

Word Origin and History for low key

low key


adj.

also low-key, 1895, from low (adj.) + key (n.1), perhaps from the musical sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper