verb (used with object)
to treat or speak of (something) so as to reduce emphasis on its importance, value, strength, etc.: The press has downplayed the president's role in the negotiations.

1950–55; down1 + play, from verb phrase play down Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
downplay (ˈdaʊnˌpleɪ)
(tr) to play down; make little of

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

de-emphasize, 1968, from down (adv.) + play (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Scientists downplay the role of global warming in the formation of icebergs.
We often downplay the importance of ceremony and ritual in university life.
That's what governments do best, they cover up or downplay disasters so that no
  one panics, and so they can get re-elected.
Of course the tourism industry is going to downplay the effects.
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