U is for Underscoring the Importance of Understatement | #AtoZChallenge


An understatement is a figure of speech used in writing and speaking that diminishes (understates) the seriousness or importance of an event or situation. It is the opposite of hyperbole/overstatement.

An understatement creates the effect of irony, since the response is contrary to what is expected in a severe situation. Understatement can also be accompanied by an ironical tone. The device can be used to deliberately decrease the intensity of an event or situation.

Writers should not underestimate the effect of understatement.


Holden Caulfield in Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye: “I have to have this operation. It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.”

See more examples for understatement here at literarydevices.net.

(Source: Understatement, Literary Devices, Definition and Examples of Literary Terms, literarydevices.net.)

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

T is for Telling the Tale

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disorders and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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8 Responses to U is for Underscoring the Importance of Understatement | #AtoZChallenge

  1. Pingback: T is for Telling the Tale | #AtoZChallenge | Beyond the Precipice

  2. Pingback: Theme Reveal: Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2017) | Beyond the Precipice

  3. Iain Kelly says:

    I always feel understatement is underused and overstatement is overused in a lot of writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ohh! It does add a little humor!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. JJAzar says:

    I can always go for a dose of irony.

    Liked by 1 person

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