Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To act (a role) subtly or with restraint.
  • transitive v. To present or deal with subtly or with restraint; play down.
  • intransitive v. To act a role subtly or with restraint.
  • intransitive v. Games To play a low card while holding a higher card in the same suit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of underplaying.
  • v. To play in a subordinate, or in an inferior manner; to underact a part.
  • v. To play a low card when holding a high one, in the hope of a future advantage.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To play in a subordinate, or in an inferior manner; to underact a part.
  • intransitive v. To play a low card when holding a high one, in the hope of a future advantage.
  • n. The act of underplaying.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To play in an inferior manner.
  • In whist, to play a low card while retaining a high one of the same suit.
  • n. The act of underplaying, especially in whist.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. act (a role) with great restraint
  • v. play a card lower than (a held high card)

Etymologies

under- +‎ play (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Hunt helps us to recognize a paradox that recent historians of book-collecting underplay, which is that the book-collectors 'obsessive acquisitiveness not only vexed their contemporaries but also beguiled them, as the undertone of affection in period commentaries hints.

    "Wedded to Books': Bibliomania and the Romantic Essayists

  • And Dana Andrews, an underestimated actor who wasn’t fully appreciated because his style was to underplay, which is so difficult.

    Not the Girl Next Door

  • There is also something antithetical to making Crispin Glover "underplay" his role.

    DVD Verdict

  • That is not to underplay the effort of other Mexicans that get involved in many ways, shapes or form of bettering the condition of others.

    Chiapa de Corzo

  • However, you underplay the imaginative use of a significant, flexible asset at a time when the Royal Navy's reduced number of platforms is thinly spread in support of the UK's interests across the world.

    Letters: Fit for purpose

  • The question for all of us, especially parents of teenagers, to ask is this: Is the media's failure to acknowledge this tragic trinity due to its tendency to overlook or underplay the dangers of marijuana use?

    Joseph A. Califano Jr.: Marijuana's Role In The Arizona Shooting

  • But the violence is a serious domestic problem and very real, in spite of what you may read on some internet forums or in ex-pat blogs which I find tend to underplay or spin it. jerezano

    Best place to cross the border (TX)?

  • Yet, many advising newcomers regarding food safety tend to underplay the importance of food and water preparation prior to consumption as if the consequences of carelessness in said preparation were insignificant.

    On Crossing the MoMo Bridge

  • There are a lot of critics that underplay the difficulty of perfectly nailing both concept and execution of a game.

    Kicking The Dog

  • We know what they overplayed; what did they underplay?

    Arianna Huffington: From DSK to BSkyB: Media Takeaways From the Latest Round of Scandals

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