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.
- 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.