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li·to·tes(lī′tə-tēz′, lĭt′ə-, lī-tō′tēz)
n. pl. litotes
A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite, as in This is no small problem.
n, pl -tes
(Rhetoric) 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".
[C17: from Greek, from litos small]
li•to•tes(ˈlaɪ təˌtiz, ˈlɪt ə-, laɪˈtoʊ tiz)
n., pl. -tes.
understatement, esp. that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in “not bad at all.” Compare hyperbole.
[1650–60; < New Latin < Greek lītótēs orig., plainness, simplicity, derivative of lītós plain, meager]
litotes- From Greek litos, "simple, single," it refers to an ironical understatement (e.g. no small amount) or two negatives used to make a positive (e.g. it was not unsuccessful); it is pronounced lie-TOH-teez, LEYED-uh-teez, LID-uh-teez, or leye-TOHD-eez.
See also related terms for positive.
an understatement, especially one in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary, as in “it’s not unpleasant.”See also: Rhetoric and Rhetorical Devices
1. Deliberate understatement or negation of the contrary in order to achieve an effect, such as in “not a little tired” instead of “very tired.”
2. Assertion of a positive by denying its negative, often in the form of a deliberate understatement for effect.
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|Noun||1.||litotes - understatement for rhetorical effect (especially when expressing an affirmative by negating its contrary); "saying `I was not a little upset' when you mean `I was very upset' is an example of litotes"|
understatement - a statement that is restrained in ironic contrast to what might have been said
rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)