1. describe something as less significant than it is
play down the victory/achievement/danger
Sometimes people intentionally present something as less important or significant than it is. This might be because they are humble and don't look for praise, but it could also be because they want to avoid the negative effect of drawing attention to the truth. This can be used in any context, social or professional. To 'play down' something is to make it sound less serious or important than it really is, usually so as not to worry other people. "The CEO tried to play down the impact of the decision but we all knew lay-offs were coming."