About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word




Pronunciation RealAudio

litotes (LI-tuh-teez, LIT-, li-TOH-teez) noun, plural litotes

A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite, as in This is no small problem.

[Greek litotes, from litos, plain.]

"In another column, I expounded the art of litotes, by which we damn with faint praise or praise with faint damns. The usual example is, `She's not a bad soprano,' which is subtly different from saying that the lady is a good soprano."
James Kilpatrick, When Counseling Erring Writers, You Better Have Right Stuff, Denver Rocky Mountain News, Dec 28 1997.

This week's theme: words about words.


A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer and scientist (1749-1832)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith