One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Ironic understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary (e.g., you won't be sorry, meaning you'll be glad).
minimization, trivialization, euphemismView synonyms
- ‘But, if we follow Schwarzbach, Dickens's description of the street mire in Holborn is, if anything, understated - ‘mud’ is not hyperbole, but litotes.’
- ‘First one must register his anti-Idealism, his antipathy toward the idea becoming metonymical litotes for such.’
- ‘Next thing you know, they'll be using dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire.’
- ‘Yet this definition fails to explain instances of litotes, or understatement, which is often classified as a kind of irony.’
- ‘The manager, a man adept in the use of litotes, said: ‘It wasn't the best game of pure football in the world.‘’
Late 16th century: via late Latin from Greek litotēs, from litos ‘plain, meager’.
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