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It is a figure in which an understatement is deliberately made to heighten the effect of something. 

It is sometimes identified with Litotes. It is the opposite Hyperbole. 

It is a figure which contains an understatement for emphasis. Often used ironically, it is also employed for dramatic effect. It 'deliberately represents something as much less in magnitude or importance than it really is'. In this figure understatement is used not to deceive but to enhance the impression on the hearer. In the sentence 'I have a little bad news to give ; Mahatma Gandhi is dead' we get an example of meiosis, for here through an understatement (i.e.,'a little bad') something of great important (i.e., very bad) is represented. 

The chief characteristics of this figure are given below:

(i) A deliberate understatement about something is made.

(ii) It is done not for lowering but for heightening the effect of the thing.


(i) She was rather beautiful 

(ii) That was some (i.e., great) opera

(iii) I will teach you somewhat (i.e.,much)

(iv) I cannot move now, for I am a little (i.e..,very much) tired


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