Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
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.).
a figure of speech, conscious understatement in which emphasis is achieved by negation; examples are the common expressions "not bad!" and "no mean feat." Litotes is a stylistic feature of Old English poetry and of the Icelandic sagas, and it is responsible for much of their characteristic stoical restraint. The term meiosis means understatement generally, and litotes is considered a form of meiosis.