1

Having made (in vain) a good faith effort to answer this question without troubling the esteemed community, I pray the following expert-level advice on what I think all will agree is a thought-provoking matter:

What type of statement do you refer to if you call something by what it is not, like:

"That is not good" instead of "That is bad"

  • Questions which lack results of research are out of scope. Word or phrase requests are out of scope, unless they are expert-level, particularly interesting, unique, and thought-provoking, and show effort and research. For an introduction to the site, take the Tour. For help writing a good question, see How to Ask. – MetaEd Jul 26 '16 at 18:04
0

This is called negative strenghtening by Larry Horn in his classic 1989 book A natural history of negation. Horn notes that the phenomenon is conventionally classified as a case of litotes (emphasis through understatement).

1

Generally, it belongs to speech called circumlocution (talking around something); if the idea is to lessen the impact of the negative - say, telling someone their idea is bad - you could classify it as a euphemism or understatement.

Also relevant, if conditions are involved, is the idea of contrapositive. A contrapositive is an equally-true restatement of a condition in negative terms. E.g., "if something is a bat, it is a mammal" has the contrapositive "if something is not a mammal, then it must not be a bat."

  • Thank you for the reply. All of these seem relevant, however I was just wondering if there was not maybe something more specific? – RaymondSWalters Jul 26 '16 at 17:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.