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litotesn. [NL., fr. Gr. lito`ths, from lito`s plain, simple.].
     A diminution or softening of statement for the sake of avoiding censure or increasing the effect by contrast with the moderation shown in the form of expression; a form of understatement; as, “ a citizen of no mean city,” that is, of an illustrious city; or, “not bad”, meaning “good”.  [1913 Webster]


litotes, n. ironical understatement, esp. the expressing of an affirmative by the negative of its contrary (e.g. I shan't be sorry for I shall be glad).

LL f. Gk litotes f. litos plain, meagre

For further exploring for "litotes" in Webster Dictionary Online

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