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litotes(lī`tətēz'), 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 ironyirony,
figure of speech in which what is stated is not what is meant. The user of irony assumes that his reader or listener understands the concealed meaning of his statement.
..... Click the link for more information. , litotes is meant to emphasize by understating. Its opposite is hyperbolehyperbole
, a figure of speech in which exceptional exaggeration is deliberately used for emphasis rather than deception. Andrew Marvell employed hyperbole throughout "To His Coy Mistress":
An hundred years should go to praise
..... Click the link for more information. .
(1) The literary device of understatement, the opposite of hyperbole, used to intensify the descriptiveness and expressiveness of speech. Litotes involves the juxtaposition of two heterogeneous elements based on a common feature that is represented to a much lesser degree in the means of comparison than in the object of comparison. Examples include “a little man the size of a thumbnail” (N. A. Nekrasov), “a waist no thicker than a bottleneck” (N. V. Gogol), “the speed of a tortoise,” and “within arm’s reach.” Structurally, a litotes may take the form of a simile, metaphor, or epithet. A considerable number of turns of speech representing litotes are idiomatic (“money squeezed from a cat’s tears”).
(2) The replacement of an affirmative description with a negation of the contrary—for example, “not stupid” instead of “clever” or “I don’t object” instead of “I agree.”