Weekend Word Wrap: litotes
Today's Wrap was going to be on hyperbole, but then I thought, nahhhh, litotes, sorta the opposite of hyperbole, would probably be much more interesting.
So if hyperbole is emphasis by exaggeration, as in "Honey, I love you to the moon and back," or "He drives a car the size of a blimp," litotes (lie-TOE-tees) emphasizes by weakening a statement using the negative of its opposite. A classic litotes is "not bad, not bad at all" when you really mean to say something is "pretty good." A couple other classics: "not many" for "a few" and "no big deal," to mean "it was nothing."
An early example of litotes can be found in the Bible. Paul (formerly called Saul) says in Acts 21:39, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people." No ordinary city is the negative of the opposite: "I come from the baddest city in Cilicia, so let me speak, yo!"
Litotes can also be used to make little jokes, too, as in "Well, he's no Einstein." Have some litotes to share? A famous example? An original? It's the interactive part of the Wrap, folks... and I'm not just whistling dixie, neither!