Why are litotes used?

1 Answer
Jul 25, 2016

Litotes use understatement to emphasize an idea or situation.


Litotes, by definition, are figures of speech that create an understatement by using double negatives. For example:

"She isn't a very down-to-earth person."
"The Sour Blasterz candy was not sour, to be honest."
"Playing outside during a thunderstorm is not a good idea."

Litotes intentionally use understatements to create an ironic effect. They're also double negative statements since they confirm one idea by negating the opposite.

More importantly, though, it brings attention to a certain idea. By talking about an object, yet not talking directly about it, the idea suddenly becomes more prominent and important. It's something that a lot of people use in their day-to-day conversations, but not a lot of people notice, including the speaker.

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