verb (used with object), un·der·stat·ed, un·der·stat·ing.

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 formsun·der·state·ment [uhn-der-steyt-muh nt, uhn-der-steyt-] /ˌʌn dərˈsteɪt mənt, ˈʌn dərˌsteɪt-/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for understate

minimize, downplay, lessen, underrate, undervalue, devalue

Examples from the Web for understate

Contemporary Examples of understate

Historical Examples of understate

  • 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.

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

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