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litotes

Definition:

understatement for rhetorical effect (especially when expressing an affirmative by negating its contrary)

Class:

communication noun (communicative processes and contents)

Plural:

litotes*
(* litotes may be used in a singular or plural context)

Original source:

Princeton WordNet

Usage example:

Saying "I wasn't a little upset" when you mean "I was very upset" is an example of litotes.

Synonyms:

meiosis

Etymology:

late Latin from Greek litotēs, from litos "plain, meagre"
(Source: Oxford Dictionary)  [more]

Definition references

Wikipedia:

Litotes

a figure of speech in which understatement is employed for rhetorical effect, principally via double negatives. For example, rather than saying that something is attractive, one might merely say it's "not unattractive". Litotes is a form of ... (37 of 1091 words, pronunciations)

en​.wikipedia​.org​/wiki​/Litotes

Collins Dictionary:

litotes

understatement for rhetorical effect, especially when achieved by using negation with a term in place of using an antonym of that term, as in "She was ... (26 of 217 words, pronunciation)

www​.collinsdictionary​.com​/dictionary​/english​/litotes

Britannica Encyclopedia:

litotes [rhetoric]

a figure of speech, conscious understatement in which emphasis is achieved by negation; examples are the common expressions "not bad!" and "no mean ... (23 of 64 words)

www​.britannica​.com​/E​Bchecked​/topic​/343911​/litotes

Oxford Dictionary:

litotes

ironical understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary (e.g. I shan't be sorry for I shall be glad) (24 of 57 words, pronunciation)

oxforddictionaries​.com​/definition​/english​/litotes

Wiktionary:

litotes [rhetoric]

A figure of speech in which the speaker emphasizes the magnitude of a statement by denying its opposite; a figure of speech in which understatement is used with negation to express a positive attribute; a form of irony (38 of 50 words, pronunciation)

en​.wiktionary​.org​/wiki​/litotes

Merriam-Webster:

litotes

understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary (as in "not a bad singer" or "not unhappy") (22 of 48 words, pronunciation)

www​.merriam-webster​.com​/dictionary​/litotes

Macmillan British Dictionary:

litotes [uncountable, literary]

the use of a negative statement to say something positive, for example by describing something as "not unreasonable" (18 of 44 words, pronunciations)

www​.macmillandictionary​.com​/dictionary​/british​/litotes

New World Dictionary:

litotes | litotic [adjective, related]

understatement for effect, especially such understatement in which something is expressed by a negation of the contrary (Ex.: not a few regrets) (22 of 44 words, pronunciations)

www​.yourdictionary​.com​/litotes

American Heritage Dictionary:

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". (25 of 43 words, pronunciation)

www​.yourdictionary​.com​/litotes

Columbia Encyclopedia:

litotes

figure of speech in which a statement is made by indicating the negative of its opposite, e.g., "not many" meaning "a few". A form of irony, litotes ... (27 of 40 words, pronunciation)

www​.infoplease​.com​/ce​6​/ent​/A​0829976​.html

Random House Dictionary:

litotes [rhetoric]

understatement, especially that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in "not bad at all." (21 of 33 words, pronunciation)

dictionary​.infoplease​.com​/litotes

Cambridge Dictionary:

meiosis [specialized]

the type of cell division that happens in the reproductive organs, in which one cell divides into four gametes (reproductive cells), each with a ... (24 of 45 words, pronunciations)

dictionary​.cambridge​.org​/dictionary​/british​/meiosis

Encarta Dictionary:

litotes

a deliberate understatement, often expressed negatively, as in "I am not unmindful of your devotion" (15 of 43 words, pronunciation)

encarta​.msn​.com​/dictionary 1861699043​/definition​.html  [offline]

Etymology references

Oxford Dictionary:

litotes

First use: late 16th century

Origin: late Latin from Greek litotēs, from litos "plain, meagre"

oxforddictionaries​.com​/definition​/english​/litotes

Merriam-Webster:

litotes

First use: 1589

Origin: Greek litotēs, from litos simple, perhaps from lit-, lis linen cloth

www​.merriam-webster​.com​/dictionary​/litotes

New World Dictionary:

litotes

Origin: Greek litotēs from litos, smooth, simple, plain, akin to leios: see "lime"

www​.yourdictionary​.com​/litotes

American Heritage Dictionary:

litotes

Origin: Greek lītotēs, from lītos, plain; see lei- in Indo-European roots.

www​.yourdictionary​.com​/litotes

Wiktionary:

litotes [rhetoric]

Origin: Ancient Greek λιτότης (litotēs), from λιτός (litos, "simple").

en​.wiktionary​.org​/wiki​/litotes

Online Etymology:

litotes

Origin: Greek litotes, from litos "smooth, plain, small, meager".

www​.etymonline​.com​/index​.php term=litotes

Collins Dictionary:

litotes

First use: 17th century

Origin: from Greek, from litos small

www​.collinsdictionary​.com​/dictionary​/english​/litotes

Encarta Dictionary:

litotes

First use: Late 16th century

Origin: late Latin from Greek litotēs from litos "simple"

encarta​.msn​.com​/dictionary 1861699043​/definition​.html  [offline]

Audio references

Collins Dictionary:

litotes

Audio: British English pronunciation of "litotes"

www​.collinsdictionary​.com​/dictionary​/english​/litotes

Macmillan American Dictionary:

litotes [uncountable, literary]

Audio 1: North American pronunciation of "litotes"

Audio 2: North American pronunciation of "litotes"

Audio 3: North American pronunciation of "litotes"

www​.macmillandictionary​.com​/dictionary​/american​/litotes

Macmillan British Dictionary:

litotes [uncountable, literary]

Audio 1: British English pronunciation of "litotes"

Audio 2: British English pronunciation of "litotes"

www​.macmillandictionary​.com​/dictionary​/british​/litotes

the Free Dictionary:

litotes

Audio 1: British English pronunciation of "litotes"

Audio 2: North American English pronunciation of "litotes" by speech synthesizer

www​.thefreedictionary​.com​/litotes

Google Dictionary:

litotes

Audio: English pronunciation of "litotes"

www​.google​.com​/#hl=en&tbs=dfn​:1&fp=1&q=litotes

Merriam-Webster Pronunciation:

litotes

Audio: North American pronunciation of "litotes"

www​.merriam-webster​.com​/audio​.php file=litote​01 word=litotes

litotes

Audio: North American pronunciation of "litotes"

www​.merriam-webster​.com​/audio​.php file=litote​02 word=litotes

YourDictionary Audio:

litotes

Audio: North American English pronunciation of "litotes" by speech synthesizer

www​.yourdictionary​.com​/litotes

Page last updated: 2013-06-26

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