Etymology
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litotes (n.)

rhetorical figure in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary ("no laughing matter"), from Greek litotes "plainness, simplicity," from litos "smooth, plain," also "frugal, small, meager," and, of style, "simple, unadorned," from PIE root *(s)lei- "slimy, sticky, slippery" (hence "smooth"); see slime (n.).

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Definitions of litotes

litotes (n.)
understatement for rhetorical effect (especially when expressing an affirmative by negating its contrary);
saying `I was not a little upset' when you mean `I was very upset' is an example of litotes
Synonyms: meiosis
From wordnet.princeton.edu