• He was…fluent in speech and crashingly dull. If there was an opportunity to be underwhelming, he unfailingly seized it —Observer, 1984.

This fanciful variation on overwhelming means ‘unimpressive’ (underwhelmed and occasionally the simple verb underwhelm are also used); it dates from the 1950s but seems much more recent. The tone is generally jocular and this should be remembered in more formal contexts.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Underwhelm — Un der*whelm , v. t. To interest less than anticipated; to be dull to (a person). [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • underwhelm — 1956, a facetious play on overwhelm …   Etymology dictionary

  • underwhelm — ► VERB humorous ▪ fail to impress or make a positive impact on. ORIGIN suggested by OVERWHELM(Cf. ↑overwhelming) …   English terms dictionary

  • underwhelm — [un derhwelm′, un derwelm′] vt. [ironic allusion to OVERWHELM] to fail to make a good impression or have a significant impact on …   English World dictionary

  • underwhelm — tv. & in. to fail to impress (someone). □ Your talents simply underwhelm me. □ As we were being underwhelmed by a buxom soprano, my thoughts drifted to more pleasant matters. □ We know you tried, but you just underwhelm …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • underwhelm — transitive verb Etymology: under + overwhelm Date: 1949 to fail to impress or stimulate < the movie underwhelmed most reviewers > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • underwhelm — /un deuhr hwelm , welm /, v.t. Informal. to fail to interest or astonish: After all the ballyhoo, most critics were underwhelmed by the movie. [1945 50; UNDER + (OVER)WHELM] * * * …   Universalium

  • underwhelm — verb To fail to impress; to perform disappointingly. Ant: overwhelm …   Wiktionary

  • Underwhelm — cause dissatisfaction by not performing to expectations …   Dictionary of Australian slang

  • underwhelm — Australian Slang cause dissatisfaction by not performing to expectations …   English dialects glossary

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