What’s a litotes?

litotesI came across a new word, ‘litotes’, in a Guardian forum. Not an unpleasant sounding word (ha ha!), and worth examination.

Wikipedia tells me ‘it’s a figure of speech wherein understatement is used to emphasize a point by stating a negative to further affirm a positive, often incorporating double negatives for effect’.

Examples of litotes:

  • He’s no oil painting
  • She’s not as young as she was
  • He’s not unlike his dad
  • You’re not doing badly
  • This is not the best coffee I’ve had

Finally, litotes is both singular and plural. Now, I’m not as dumb as I was.

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