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It is a figure in which an affirmative statement is made by the negation of its contrary.

In this figure a negative is used before some other word to indicate a strong affirmative. Like meiosis it contains an under statement for emphasis for which it becomes the opposite of hyperbole. By this figure 'more is intended than expressed '. Litotes, according to Fowler, is 'the same as, or a variety of, Meiosis '.

The sentence 'The show is not bad' is an example of litotes; here 'not bad ' means 'very good'. It shows that a strong (very) affirmation (good) is made by the negative (not) of its contrary ('bad' which is the negative of its contrary word, good).

The chief characteristics of this figure are given below:

(i) An affirmative idea is expressed 

(ii) This is done by the negation of the affirmative words's contrary. 

(iii) Though deliberate understatement the idea is emphasized. 

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