[verb uhn-der-es-tuh-meyt; noun uhn-der-es-tuh-mit, -meyt]

verb (used with object), un·der·es·ti·mat·ed, un·der·es·ti·mat·ing.

to estimate at too low a value, rate, or the like.

verb (used without object), un·der·es·ti·mat·ed, un·der·es·ti·mat·ing.

to make an estimate lower than that which would be correct.


an estimate that is too low.

Origin of underestimate

First recorded in 1805–15; under- + estimate
Related formsun·der·es·ti·ma·tion, noun

Synonyms for underestimate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for underestimate

Contemporary Examples of underestimate

Historical Examples of underestimate

  • It would be for most people, but I think you underestimate your cheek, as you call it.

  • You underestimate your favors, if you fancy they are easily forgotten!

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • Oh, not that I underestimate the home women or the sheltered women.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • It is obvious that at about that time everybody was inclined to underestimate his chances.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • Bidwell did not underestimate his importance in this rush of gold-frenzied men.

British Dictionary definitions for underestimate


verb (tr)

to make too low an estimate ofhe underestimated the cost
to think insufficiently highly ofto underestimate a person

noun (ˌʌndərˈɛstɪmɪt)

too low an estimate
Derived Formsunderestimation, noun


Underestimate is sometimes wrongly used where overestimate is meant: the importance of his work cannot be overestimated (not cannot be underestimated)
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 underestimate

1812, "to estimate at too low an amount," from under + estimate (v.). Meaning "to rank too low, undervalue" is recorded from 1850. Related: Underestimated; underestimating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper