Litotes: the Not Un-handy Literary Trope

Litotes is a figure of speech in which the description
of something is achieved by negating its opposite.
Ever wonder what the opposite of hyperbole is? Me neither! I was always too easily distracted by, well, the hyperbole. But, as long as we’re here, let’s, go ahead and put a finer point on it. Litotes, the opposite of hyperbole, occurs by negating the opposite of its meaning. If hyperbole is overstating something by a ton (heh!) then litotes shine by tarnishing the opposite. (I know, the ‘S’ is confusing, but it belongs there, and not in a plural way)
Example: the comment “not bad” (meaning good) is litotes-ic (I’m pretty sure I just made up the word litotes-ic.)
I know what you’re thinking — I’ll never use a lito-whatsit word-thing, figure of speech. But chances are you already have. Example: have you ever said (or written) something along the lines of: he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed? She’s a couple of tacos short of a combination plate. That movie seriously didn’t suck.  
Uh huh. Yep. All litotes.  If you think of more, post ’em to the comments. It could be fun.

About Sheryl Scarborough

For MONEY I have written: TV series, cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, magazine articles, Business Plans, Direct Music Marketing letters (as Mariah Carey, MC Hammer and others), Corporate Newsletters, Mens Style (online) Magazine (as managing editor),screenplays (well, okay so not so much about the money there) and Restaurant Reviews (for free food!) Now… I’m writing for love and what I LOVE are young adult mystery novels.


3 Responses to Litotes: the Not Un-handy Literary Trope

  1. Jeannine says:

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  2. Isobel says:

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  3. Lucille says:

    This is a matter close to my heart cheers.