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5
votes
6answers
2k views

Euphemism for “non-useful”

I was just about to tell someone how something "wouldn't really be much useful" if they leave it the way it is — which is like a much more polite version of useless, but I just couldn't find the word. ...
5
votes
3answers
805 views

Double negation and litotes

A friend of mine who's a native English speaker corrected me the other day. I said something like "it's not something no-one has done before". He told me about the rule that states that double ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

Are litotes more common in Australian English?

Are litotes more common in Australian English, especially colloquial speech, compared to other dialects of English such as American English? I could find on ELU a comment stating that this is the ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Usage and example of the word “litotes”

I've come across the word litotes, which means a rhetorical understatement. However, I’m having trouble understanding how to use it in colloquial English. Could someone please give an example?
3
votes
4answers
545 views

Can you negate a positive without implying the opposite?

I often stumble over the fact that in English, apparently, we imply the reverse when we negate a positive. For example, That wasn't very good. [⇒ That was bad.] That wasn't bad. [⇒ That was ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Litotes: Always for Emphasis? Used for Non-committal Hedging? Any Authoritative Source?

My question is about litotes. I’m wondering if it is always for emphasis, or whether it can be a type of non-committal statement or hedging. And, is there an authoritative source that can be cited ...
0
votes
2answers
58 views

Are both “You can do no worse than” and “You can do worse than” accepted?

I came across "You can do no worse than" in the following article: You can do no worse than follow the regular updates that ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is posting in his blog as he conducts his ...
0
votes
4answers
135 views

It's not ___, but it's not not ___ either

Are there general modifiers for adjectives that indicate a gray area between the adjective and its negative? E.g., "Plywood isn't wooden, but it isn't not-wooden either. Therefore, plywood is ____ly ...
-1
votes
5answers
1k views

“Not once he would” vs. “not once would he”

Not being a native speaker and suffering semantic satiation from overthinking this, I'd like to ask this probably overly simple question. Not once would he... uses reversal for negation and ...