The litotes is a stylistic means which, by means of double negation, affirms a statement or pushes it into the foreground through understatement. This means that the litotes express the opposite or diminishes what is meant, in order to intensify it in the actual. The Litotes is a stylistic figure that highlights things and is related to hyperbola and irony.

The word is derived from the ancient Greek (λιτότης, litótēs) and can be made with simplicity, thrift or even restraint. The translation clarifies exactly what it has in itself with the style figure. Nevertheless, the latter points to a state of affairs by moderately mitigating it or negating it in order to emphasize it. Let’s look at an example.

It is not a trifle to write an elf.
The litotes are in the example sentence on the words “no trifles”. For it is expressed here that it is a great matter and this is done by the negation (negation) of the word “Kleingkeit”. The sentence thus expresses something which it does not contain. He affirms something by denying it.

My friend is not exactly ugly.
This example for the Litotes also turns the actual-meant. The friend is described as “non-ugly”, which means that ebendie’s friend is “beautiful”. Here, too, we are dealing with an affirmation by the double negation.

Furthermore, the stimulus can be used by attenuating what is said and not negating it. The term is made weaker, in order to increase it in the actual enormously. Here, too, we can look at an example from the everyday language.

But this is a pretty penny
The litotes are here on the diminutive. A diminutive is a diminution of the noun and is often used for trivializations. However, the downsizing of the noun sum by the syllable “chen” is expressed as a proud amount. Here the litotes do not deny, but weakens the expression and strengthens it (see understatement).

Note: Not every vernification or negation is a litote. The sentence: “I am not good!” For “very bad” can of course also simply as negation apply. The stylistic figure is therefore always to be considered in the respective context.

Litotes, hyperbole and irony
At first it was described that the stylistic figure of the Litotes is closely related to hyperbola and irony. This assertion will now be described in greater detail.

The hyperbola describes a strong exaggeration or even weakening of a concept such as the statement I cried a sea of ​​tears. This is, of course, to be understood only as a picture, since no one can ever shed so much tears.

However, the hyperbola is also an indirect form of the elucidation of a matter of fact, and ebendies can of course also apply to the litotes. If we reduce the hyperbola to the obvious elevation of a statement, the litotes even form the content counterpart, since it makes a statement through the strong “weakening”.

The litotes are also related to irony. This is due to the fact that both style figures conceal a statement. The speaker can assume a superior attitude in this respect, since no direct statement is required by the denial.

The difference between litotes and irony, however, is that the irony says the opposite of what it means and does not go beyond it.

I felt the pain of the world.
You’re not exactly the brightest candle in the candlestick.
You’re a nice friend to me.
Further examples of litotes
Many other examples can be found in language usage. This is due to the fact that many of the literal formulations have found their way into the everyday language.

He is not unknown. He is famous / known.
This is not a silly thought. This is a good idea.
We did not laugh a lot for We laughed a lot.
This is not bad for This is very good / delicious.
The most important overview
Litotical formulations affirm a statement by means of the double negation, thus a statement can be underlined.
Furthermore, a statement can also be displayed exaggerated. This is a form of “understatement”, that is to say, of the ministry.
The stylistic figure is related to the hyperbola and irony and emphasizes a situation more strongly.

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