[ lahy-tuh-teez, lit-uh-, lahy-toh-teez ]
/ ˈlaɪ təˌtiz, ˈlɪt ə-, laɪˈtoʊ tiz /
noun, plural li·to·tes. Rhetoric.
understatement, especially that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in “not bad at all.”
Words nearby litotes
Origin of litotes
1650–60; < New Latin < Greek lītótēs orig., plainness, simplicity, derivative of lītós plain, small, meager
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for litotes
/ (ˈlaɪtəʊˌtiːz) /
noun plural -tes
understatement for rhetorical effect, esp when achieved by using negation with a term in place of using an antonym of that term, as in "She was not a little upset" for "She was extremely upset."
Word Origin for litotes
C17: from Greek, from litos small
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012