The Magic of Litotes: How To Say the Opposite of What You Mean With Style

Have you ever said “Actually, that’s not bad” when you really meant “That’s great“?

This is an example of litotes. A common figure of speech that appears in everyday conversation.

It uses negative wording or terms to express a positive statement

Here are some other examples:

  1. “She’s not unkind.” (meaning: She is kind.)
  2. “The food isn’t bad.” (meaning: The food is good.)
  3. “I’m not unhappy with the results.” (meaning: I am happy with the results.)
  4. “He’s not lacking in confidence.” (meaning: He is confident.)
  5. “She’s not a bad singer.” (meaning: She is a good singer.)
  6. “The film wasn’t terrible.” (meaning: The film was good.)
  7. “He’s not bad-looking.” (meaning: He’s attractive.)
  8. “It’s not the worst idea.” (meaning: It’s a good idea.)
  9. “I’m not unfamiliar with the concept.” (meaning: I’m familiar with the concept.)
  10. “I’m not against your idea.” (meaning: I’m in favour of it.)

Have you ever used litotes in your everyday conversation without realising it?

Why not share an example in the comments below?

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Foto Christine Sparks

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