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Meiosis

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Meiosis

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Meiosis is an understatement, making less of something that it actually it.

Example

What they called a 'riot' was really high spirits, just people having fun.

Don't worry, I'm fine. It's only a scratch.

Discussion

Making something smaller reduces chance of people being distracted by it or focusing on it. If you want others to pay attention to something then you may well want them not be distracted.

Meosis is also common in polite society, where it is considered rude to draw attention to one's own problems, which may hence be downplayed. In a curious reversal, by downplaying something that others know is significant, you actually draw attention to it.

There are words that diminish, such as 'just', 'only', 'simply' and so on. Inserting these as modifiers makes what is said less important. Spotting them is a a useful method for identifying meiosis. 

Meiosis is the opposite of Auxesis.

'Meiosis' comes from the Greek word meaning 'to make smaller'.

Classification: Reduction, Reversal

See also

Amplification principle, Attention principle

Euphemism, Tapinosis

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