Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia.
Related to play down: play out, Playing Around, playing to the gallery
play someone or something down
to lessen the effect or importance of someone or something. John is a famous actor, but the director tried to play him down as just another member of the cast. Her lawyer tried to play down her earlier arrest.
play down somethingalso play something down
to try to make something seem less serious than it really is He played down the seriousness of his condition because he didn't want anyone to worry. It's a sensitive issue, and they want to play it down until after the elections.
1. Make little of, minimize the importance of, as in A skillful salesman plays down the drawbacks of the product and emphasizes its good features . [First half of 1900s]
2. play down to. Lower one's standards to meet the demands of someone, as in Some stand-up comics deliberately play down to the vulgar taste of their audiences. [Late 1800s]
To minimize something or the importance of something: She played down the importance of her own research and credited her colleagues instead. When the reporters asked the mayor about the city's growing debt, she played it down, assuring them that she would not raise taxes.