An understatement is a parent of speech employed by writers or speakers to deliberately make a situation appear less important than it really is.
For example, you win 10 million greenbacks in a lottery. When you inform a news reporter “I am delighted,” you are making an understatement. Similarly, think a crew loses to its opponent 50 to zero in a soccer fit, and the captain of the team says in a post-healthy ceremony, “We did not do well,” it's miles a real understatement because he is making an attempt to lower the intensity of the loss.
An understatement normally has an ironic effect, as an equally severe response is anticipated in excessive situations, however the announcement in reaction is the opposite of what became expected. For instance, your buddy returns your new coat with a huge wine stain at the front of it. In response, you make a sarcasm, “It doesn’t look too bad.” Therefore, an understatement is contrary to some other discern of speech, hyperbole, that is an overstatement.
Common Understatement Examples
Let us attempt to apprehend understatement better with the help of some commonplace examples of understatement used in day by day conversations:
“Deserts are once in a while hot, dry, and sandy.” – Describing deserts of the world.
“He isn't always too thin.” – Describing an overweight person.
“It rained a bit greater than usual.” – Describing an area being flooded by heavy rainfall.
“It was O.K.” – Said through the scholar who got the very best score on the test.
“It is a bit nippy today.” – Describing the temperature, that is 5 degrees beneath freezing.
Examples of Understatement in Literature
Example #1: Catcher in the Rye (By J. D. Salinger)
In Salinger’s Catcher within the Rye, Holden Caulfield says:
“I should have this operation. It isn’t very serious. I actually have this tiny little tumor on the brain.”
Having a tumor in the mind is a serious issue, which has been understated in this excerpt.
Example #2: Emperor Mage (By Tamora Pierce)
In Emperor Mage, a myth novel by Tamora Pierce, Daine states (as though she has achieved not anything wrong):
“I notion they’d killed you. I misplaced my temper.”
This is an irony that Daine makes, after elevating an navy of dinosaur skeletons to wreck the king and later, she destroys the imperial palace that allows you to avenge the dying of her teacher.
Example #3: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (By Mark Twain)
[Aunt Sally] “Good gracious, anyone hurt?”
[Huck] “No’m. Killed a nigger.”
This excerpt from Mark Twain’s well-known work offers considered one of the notable understatement examples found in Twain’s literary pieces. Huck’s reaction, “No’m. Killed a nigger” exposes the considering the humans of the time, who did not do not forget black men humans. Killing a black man was not considered something critical.
Example #4: Night’s Dawn Trilogy (By Peter F. Hamilton)
Look on the understatement in Night’s Dawn Trilogy written by way of Peter F. Hamilton:
“I’ve continually been a large admirer of the Edenist capability to understate. But I suppose defining a chunk of land fifteen kilometers throughout that all at once takes flight and wanders off into every other dimension as a little hassle is probably the best example yet.”
Example #five: The Silver Chain (By Primula Bond)
Another example of understatement comes from Primula Bond’s novel The Silver Chain:
“And you, who have informed me a hundred times how deeply you pitied me for the sorceries through which I become bound, will possible listen with pleasure that they're now ended forever. There changed into, it seems, a few small error on your Ladyship’s way of treating them.”
The reference of “a few small error” is a sarcasm as the error which ends up somebody’s power is not small at all.
Example #6: Consider Phlebas (By Iain Banks)
In every other fantasy novel, Consider Phlebas, a sarcasm changed into made about a battle that lasted for 48 years, and took the lives of more than 851 billion beings.
“A small, short warfare that not often extended all through greater than .02% of the galaxy and .01% by way of stellar population … the galaxy’s elder civilisations rate the Idiran-Culture warfare as … one of these singularly thrilling Events they see so not often those days.”
Function of Understatement
An understatement is a tool that enables to develop other figures of speech, such as irony and sarcasm, via deliberately reducing the severity of a situation, while an intense response is predicted by way of the listeners or the readers.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw