Random Things — Litotes

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a long commute, and during my drives I listen to podcasts. I recently stumbled onto Helen Zaltzman’s “The Allusionist,” which is a part of the Radiotopia network. Helen Zaltzman, you may know, is one-third of the trio responsible for “Answer Me This!,” which, I am somewhat chagrined to admit, has not been in my standard routine for a while, though it has been a source of great entertainment.

“The Allusionist” is a podcast that tickles my etymology bone (having thought at one point that lexicography and linguistics would make for a fascinating career, I am not surprised I have an etymology bone) and I learn new words every episode. High drama, it is admittedly not, but for an intellectual diversion, it is quite entertaining.

Okay, so what?  Well, I learned today that the contra-cousin of hyperbole (i.e., it’s related but not an exact opposite) is litotes, defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “ironical understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary.” The example provided is “you won’t be sorry,” meaning “you’ll be glad.”  I like understatement (a common phrase I heard growing up was “I was so worried I almost called you”) so litotes resonates a little with me.

Anyway, nothing too important to really discuss in this post, just: words are fun, and you should listen to The Allusionist.