Litotes

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This article is part of the Figures of Speech course. You may choose to follow it in a structured way, or read each item separately.

Litotes (pronounced 'lie-TOE-tees', IPA: /laɪ ˈtəʊ tiːz/) is a special form of meiosis or understatement. It is produced by using two negatives, usually in the form 'not - un-'. "It is not unlikely that it will rain today" means that the speaker believes it will rain; "she is not unattractive" means that the speaker is greatly drawn to the woman concerned.