What are Litotes?
Litotes are a form of understatement in which a negative sentence is used to make a positive point. It often follows the patterns ‘it’s not + negative’ (a double negative) or ‘it’s not + superlative’.
Litotes can be used in many different situations. However, in speaking they are often for joking, being modest, and being cruel.
Examples of Litotes
Hmm, that’s not bad. (= that is pretty good)
There’s not a lot. (= there is almost none)
He’s not wrong. (= he is right)
It wasn’t the best use of my time. (= I thought it was a waste of my time)
This is not unlike the time I went to Rome. (= this is similar to the time I went to Rome)
She’s not the smartest girl in the class. (= she is a bit stupid)
He isn’t the thinnest. (= he is quite fat)
They aren’t the fastest. (= they are slow)