underplay

[uhn-der-pley, uhn-der-pley]
verb (used with object)
1.
to act (a part) sketchily.
2.
to act subtly and restrainedly.
3.
to understate or de-emphasize; downplay: The ambassador underplayed his role in the peace negotiations.
verb (used without object)
4.
to leave out of one's acting all subtlety and enriching detail.
5.
to achieve an effect in acting with a minimum of emphasis.

Origin:
1725–35; under- + play

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
underplay (ˌʌndəˈpleɪ)
 
vb
1.  to play (a role) with restraint or subtlety
2.  to achieve (an effect) by deliberate lack of emphasis
3.  (intr) cards to lead or follow suit with a lower card when holding a higher one

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
Perhaps he does underplay how far simplification and prejudice are willingly
  embraced rather than imposed.
But she tends to underplay the romance in the story.
Quite the contrary, the unusualness of my access made me want to underplay it.
It might have been better to embrace the chaos rather than underplay it.
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