Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rhetoric - meiosis



meiosis [maɪˈoʊsɪs] n.

1.) A figure of speech in which something's importance is intentionally understated or implied to be less significant or substantial than it really is. The understatement actually heightens the force of the statement (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Edition).

Etymology: Greek µείωσις lessening, from µειοῦν, to lessen, from µείων less.

   "'No, everybody's fine at home,' I said. 'It's me. I have to have this operation.'
   'Oh! I'm so sorry,' she said. She really was, too. I was right away sorry I'd said it, but it was too late.
   'It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.'
   'Oh, no!" She put her hand up to her mouth and all.
   'Oh, I'll be all right and everything! It's right near the outside. And it's a very tiny one. They can take it out in about two minutes.'
   Then I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop lying. Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No kidding. Hours" (The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, 1951).

(Philosophy, Salvator Rosa, 1640)

12 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

It's strange how often your choices remind me of classic Monty Python routines . . . . Holy Grail -- Black Knight -- "it's just a flesh wound!"

Lemons Don't Make Lemonade said...

After looking at the Salvator Rosa picture, I have a question: Do all philosophers look like sad virgins? ):

Sonia said...

Debra - that's so true!

E - I love this blog!

DEZMOND said...

sound like mayonnaise, and I love mayonnaise...

Henry said...

"The understatement actually heightens the force of the statement".

Huh. That seemed a little pedantic.

Shutterbug said...

re: your comment, I'm only interested in learning new words and getting to know bloggers on a superficial level

shari said...

I totally remember that part of Catcher in the Rye. LOVED that book. I liked how he always felt sorry for the sad sacks... I'm the same way.

Did I win the contest this week? Did I? Did I? (Pathetic enough for you? Come onnnnn.....)

Flippy Doodle said...

At first I thought it was referring to the cell division process. I guess the cell division usage descends directly from this meaning (i.e. the cells are dividing into smaller parts).

LOL at Lemons comment. Well, I disagree. I think Wittgenstein looked totally hot.

To reply to your comment:
"you know there's a third option: the emasculated, easily-dominated man that is ubuntu!"
Ubuntu is one of the alpha males! :D
Problem is that whichever laptop I buy will come installed with Windows, and changing from Windows to Ubuntu always gives me problems.

Crisalys said...

I like this figure of speech a lot. It's funny, most of the time.

D4 said...

I use this every day. Every single one.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I never knew the word for this but I just realized that I use this figure of speech a lot.

Biff Tanner said...

The more you know!

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