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Word of the Day - for Toastmasters everywhere
Friday 25th June 2021
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litotes (noun) LIE-toe-taze or LIT-o-taze

Understatement for effect, meiosis; more strictly a figure of speech, in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary.

All the ingredients for life are present in a dying star. "It just takes a little time" said Neill, as neat a litotes as I have heard, as the universe's theme tune, The Blue Danube, struck up.

Nancy Banks- Smith, The Guardian, 23 July 2001. Guardian

The British Medical Association, killjoy that it is, counters that "funding should be directed to activities that do not present the risk of deliberate brain injury to young people". I detect a bit of litotes, there - I bet when they had their meeting about what kind of press release to send out, the majority were in favour of a statement like "You absolute lunatics! What on earth are you playing at, teaching youngsters to brain each other?", until a bright spark suggested understatement, for comic effect.

Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 28 September 2004. Guardian

Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, a man adept in the use of litotes, said: "It wasn’t the best game of pure football in the world."

Simon Barnes, The Times, 15 January 2001.
The Times

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