Understatement Definition and Examples

Understatement Definition and Examples

This figurative language lesson on understatements includes a free organizer and digital resources. It’s perfect for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders—curious minds ready to explore language in a new light. And guess what? We’re keeping it engaging and relatable with examples that’ll lighten their eyes! So, let’s get started on this figurative language adventure. 


An understatement is a figure of speech in which a speaker makes a situation seem less important or severe than it is. The remark makes something seem smaller. An understatement adds humor to serious situations. When verbal, the speaker delivers the statement without expression for effect.

Think of an understatement as the opposite of hyperbole.

Understatement Examples

Example #1
A hurricane has hit your home at the beach. Most likely the home has serious damage. You say, “At least the plants will get watered.”

Example #2
Astronaut Jim Lovell talks to NASA after an oxygen tank exploded aboard Apollo 13:
“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Example #3
Bill Gates has a little money.

Example #4
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie states, “Cannibalism is frowned upon in most societies.”

Understatements in Songs

Understatement Free Video Lesson with Organizer

“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M.

  • Example: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”
  • The understatement here is feeling “fine” at the end of the world.


“Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty

  • Example: “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell.”
  • Downplaying the severity of feeling “unwell” instead of “crazy.”


“Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban

    • Example: “I ain’t blue, baby. Just a little bit lonesome for some loving.”
    • The understatement is being “just a little bit lonesome” instead of deeply lonely.

 “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones

  • Example: “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone.”
  • This understatement downplays the significance of being loved.

“Yesterday” by The Beatles

  • Example: “Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play.”
  • Describing the complexity of love as a game is an understatement.

 “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins

  • Example: “I’m alright, nobody worry ’bout me.”
  • The phrase “I’m alright” can be an understatement if the person is actually not alright.

 “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash

  • Example: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.”
  • This understatement suggests that removing a small obstacle (rain) has completely cleared the way.

These songs provide excellent examples of understatement in lyrics and can engage students by exploring the concept in a fun and familiar context.


Check out the handout for additional songs containing understatements.

Free Understatement Activities

Read the definition of understatement and find examples with this free mini lesson on understatements.

Understatement Lesson with Digital and Printable Organizers

Free Mini Lesson on Understatements – includes a video, slides, and printables

This lesson introduces students to understatements. This mini-lesson is a vocabulary-building exercise for upper elementary schoolers, but it also works for middle schoolers.

In this mini-lesson, students watch the video. The video goes over the definition and gives an example. Next, students pause the video to complete either the digital or printable organizer. After completing the organizer, students continue watching the video to check their responses. This mini activity is a great introduction to an understatement lesson.

The activities in this free series are set up as individual lessons, making them great for assigning through Google Classroom.

Check out the lesson video here. Be sure to get the handout first. It contains the organizer that goes with the video.

Video Lesson
Play Video about Video Lesson

Want to Dig Deeper?

Activity #1

Do your students need to see more examples? Check out…
50 Understatement Examples from E-Reading Worksheets

Activity #2

First, gather a collection of photographs. Unsplash is a great place for this. Next, show the photos, one at a time, on a SmartBoard or similar device. While viewing the photos, have students write understatements based on the events in the photos.

Expand the activity by writing both understatements and hyperboles.

Here are some examples:


“It’s such a cold day. A freeze pop would hit the spot.”
“I could eat a million of these today.”

“Don’t worry. I have this all figured out.”
“My mom told me not to worry. I’m the smartest guy in the universe.”

“The pace in the city is relaxing.”
“The city was so crowded that it took me hours to go a few feet.”

“I climbed a small hill to see the view.”
“When I reached the mountain top, I could touch the stars.”

“It’s just a little paint.”
“There was so much paint covering Lisa that you couldn’t see her skin.”

Activity #3

This website from Texas Gateway contains interactive exercises for students. In the lessons, students locate hyperbole or understatement in sentences and paragraphs.

50 Understatement Examples from E Reading Worksheets


In summary, understatement is a subtle yet effective figurative language tool that adds humor and depth to communication by downplaying the importance or severity of a situation. By examining examples from literature, music, and everyday scenarios, students will learn to identify and appreciate the impact of understatement in various contexts.

Take advantage of the handout with a free mini-lesson with a video, slides, and printables to address these concepts in your classroom. Refer to the extended resources and suggestions in the blog post for additional practice and activities. Happy teaching, and may your students excel in recognizing and using understatement effectively!


Check out the entire series on figurative language.

See the product that inspired this post.

The video lesson on understatements is a sample from Figurative Language Digital + Printable Video Lessons & Organizers.

Gay Miller

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