Litotes


Litotes (li-to’-tees): Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite. The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing modesty (downplaying one’s accomplishments) in order to gain the audience’s favor (establishing ethos).

E: New Jersey.

A: Bigger than a breadbasket.

E: Governor Christie.

A: Bigger than a breadbasket.

E: Is there anything smaller than a breadbasket?

A: My parking space in Hoboken.

E: What about Fort Lee?

A: Bigger than a toll booth.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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