Tuesday Technique: Litotes

I became overly infatuated with the term litotes back in my Latin days, and I fancied myself rather avant garde for making it “new” again. Unfortunately, I was simply being a stereotypical college kid, since this literary device is not uncommon (bonus points if you see what I did there).

Litotes is a classical style device, but it’s one that we all use even today. Put simply, it’s just emphasizing a point by denying its opposite. The trick is that it has to be a deliberate understatement with subtle nuance.

Some examples:

  • I am not unwell.
  • She was not unfamiliar with the expression.
  • He’s not stupid.

See—simple. But in the right places, litotes can add something unique (at least, not boring).

Have some famous examples? Leave them here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s