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The Meaning and Use of Litotes: Definitions, Examples, and Impact

Have you ever heard someone say "that's not bad" and realized they actually meant something is good? This is an example of litotes. In this article, we will delve into the concept of litotes, examining its definition and usage in daily life and literature. We will also explore how litotes affects the listener or reader, distinguishing between its two types - understatement and sarcasm.

Understanding Litotes

Litotes is a type of verbal irony where a negative statement is used to express the complete opposite. It is often employed to downplay something and make it appear less significant or impressive than it truly is. This is usually done by using double negatives, although not always. Litotes is a literary device and should not be taken literally, as its figurative meaning is what should be emphasized.

For instance, if someone were to say "the weather isn't too terrible" on a beautiful day, they are actually implying that the weather is good but understating it to make it seem less remarkable.


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