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Tapinosis

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Tapinosis

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Tapinosis is the use of speech in understatement and making something smaller than it actually is.

Example

Hah! You say your team won! More like the other team lost.

Yes, I know I saved the boy, but I didn't really think and anyone would have done the same.

Discussion

What we want and what happens in the world are seldom in alignment. We thus adjust what we say and think, making some things more important and others less important. Tapinosis is about the latter diminishing activity.

We often compare ourselves with others, even to the extent of defining who we are through those with whom we do and do not associate. In this way we want ourselves to be more important than others, and that they are less important than us. As a result, we may use tapinosis to downplay the achievements of others in order to make ourselves feel good.

Modesty, on the other hand, is about understating and downplaying the importance of our own achievements in order to help others look good (and also to avoid accusations of arrogance).

Tapinosis is also spelled with an 'e': Tapeinosis.

Tapinosis is also known as 'Abbaser'.

Classification: Distortion, Reduction

See also

Amplification principle

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