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What is litotes?



Litotes is the use of a negated antonym to make an understatement or to emphatically affirm the positive.

Examples (English)
  • In John 6:37 in the Bible, the clause I will in no wise cast out means "I will certainly receive."
  • An expression of the form not unX, as in the following:

    Moreover, the attempt is not unsuccessful. (Eduard Schevardnadze)


Example from Beekman, Callow, and Kopesec 1981 183

  Litotes is a kind of

Pei and Gaynor 1954 125


Beekman and Callow 1974 183

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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