Stylistic Devices: Understatement

What is understatement?

Understatement is a figure of speech used by writers or speakers to deliberately make a situation seem less important or serious than it really is.

Examples of understatement

  • "It stings a bit" - a soldier describing the pain he feels after he has just lost his leg.
  • "It has rained a little more than the average" - describing a flooded area.
  • "It was an interesting experience." - describing a difficult unbearable experience.
  • "The grave's a fine and private place,
    But none, I think, do there embrace."
    (Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress")

More figures of speech