litotes lī´tətēz˝ [key], figure of speech in which a statement is made by indicating the negative of its opposite, e.g., not many meaning a few. A form of irony, litotes is meant to emphasize by understating. Its opposite is hyperbole.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Literature: General