Litotes Rhetorical Device in Writing

Litotes consists of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite. Examples: Hada was not unaware of Samuel’s manipulation.

She didn’t dislike it.

Lev was not a little upset.

Litotes describes the object to which it refers not directly, but through negation of the opposite. The meaning is not clear. The reader stops to understand. Why use it if it stops the reader?  If used in the right place and not often, litotes helps to make a statement in a fresh way.


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

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