[uhn-der-hwelm, -welm]

verb (used with object) Informal.

to fail to interest or astonish: After all the ballyhoo, most critics were underwhelmed by the movie.

Nearby words

  1. underwater,
  2. underway,
  3. underwear,
  4. underweight,
  5. underwent,
  6. underwhelmed,
  7. underwhelming,
  8. underwing,
  9. underwire,
  10. underwithhold

Origin of underwhelm

First recorded in 1945–50; under- + (over)whelm

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

Examples from the Web for underwhelming

British Dictionary definitions for underwhelming



failing to make a positive impact or impression; disappointing



(tr) to make no positive impact or impression on; disappoint

Word Origin for underwhelm

C20: originally a humorous coinage based on overwhelm

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 underwhelming



1953 (implied in underwhelming), a facetious play on overwhelm. Related: Underwhelmed; underwhelmingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper