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litotes Syllabification: li·to·tes
Pronunciation: /ˈlīdəˌtēz/

Definition of litotes in English:


Ironical understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary (e.g., you won’t be sorry, meaning you’ll be glad).
Example sentences
  • Yet this definition fails to explain instances of litotes, or understatement, which is often classified as a kind of irony.
  • First one must register his anti-Idealism, his antipathy toward the idea becoming metonymical litotes for such.
  • But, if we follow Schwarzbach, Dickens's description of the street mire in Holborn is, if anything, understated - ‘mud’ is not hyperbole, but litotes.


Late 16th century: via late Latin from Greek litotēs, from litos 'plain, meager'.

Words that rhyme with litotes

Surtees • Dives
Definition of litotes in:
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