follow Dictionary.com

Capitol vs. capital? What's the difference?

litotes

[lahy-tuh-teez, lit-uh-, lahy-toh-teez] /ˈlaɪ təˌtiz, ˈlɪt ə-, laɪˈtoʊ tiz/
noun, plural litotes. Rhetoric
1.
understatement, especially that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in “not bad at all.”.
Compare hyperbole.
Origin of litotes
1650-1660
1650-60; < New Latin < Greek lītótēs orig., plainness, simplicity, derivative of lītós plain, small, meager
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for litotes

litotes

/ˈlaɪtəʊˌtiːz/
noun (pl) -tes
1.
understatement for rhetorical effect, esp when achieved by using negation with a term in place of using an antonym of that term, as in "She was not a little upset" for "She was extremely upset."
Word Origin
C17: from Greek, from litos small
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for litotes
n.

rhetorical figure in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its opposite, from Greek litotes, literally "plainness, simplicity," from litos "smooth, plain, small, meager," from PIE root *(s)lei- "slimy, sticky, slippery" (hence "smooth"); see slime (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for litotes

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for litotes

7
8
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for litotes