Word of the Day

Thursday, October 11, 2012

litotes

\LAHY-tuh-teez\ , noun;
1.
Understatement, especially that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in “not bad at all.”
Quotes:
Stevens does not allow himself much of the Sublime here, yet it creeps in by negation in the litotes or understatement of the stanza's close.
-- Harold Bloom, Wallace Stevens: The Poems of Our Climate
I know it's a textbook example of what lit-crit geeks like to call litotes, a figure of speech in which an affirmative is expressed through the negation of its opposite…
-- Mark Dery, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Origin:
Litotes comes from the Greek word lītótēs which meant "plainness, simplicity."
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