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Understatement Examples

Understatement is a figure of speech in which there is a contrast between the description and reality. As such, understatement can be used to reflect modesty, sarcasm, derogatory or complimentary tone. This is not to be confused with euphemism, where a polite phrase is used in place of a harsher or more offensive expression. Understatement is a staple of humor in English-speaking cultures, for example, in David Edding's 'The Tamuli', Emperor Sarabian refers to a hurricane as "a light breeze", the loss of half his fleet as "a minor inconvenience", the imminent collapse of his empire as "some civil unrest."

Understatement is an important rhetorical device that is just the opposite of hyperbole. In hyperbole, everything is overblown, while in understatement the strength of the statement is considerably lessened. An understatement usually has an ironic effect as an equally intense response is expected in severe situations but the statement in response is opposite i.e. less intense but of course with an ironical tone, for instance, if a friend returns an article of clothing that is ruined, and in response you make an ironical understatement, "It doesn't look too bad". Thus making light of a situation that would normally be strained through the use of understated tone and modesty.
It would appear someone objected to this union and wasn't able to hold their peace.
Meaning: In 'Kill Bill' in response to the massacre at the bride's wedding.
Sentence Movies
There has been an incident on Praxis.
Meaning: In 'Star Trek VI' on the destruction of Praxis.
Sentence Movies
This is gonna ruin my whole day.
Meaning: Dr. Grace Augustine makes light of a fatal gunshot wound.

- James Cameron (Movie: Avatar)
Sentence Movies
I am just going outside and may be some time.

- Michael Smith (Book: I Am Just Going Outside: Captain Oates - Antarctic Tragedy)
Literature Michael Smith
Dr. Livingstone, I presume?
Meaning: After trekking more than 700 miles through the African wilderness, Henry Morton Stanley found David Livingstone, the only other white European in central Africa at that time. Stanley is credited with greeting Livingstone with that phrase.
British
How different, how very different, from the home life of our own dear Queen!
Meaning: The well-known Victorian critique of Cleopatra's behavior as exemplified in Sarah Bernhardt's performance in Antony and Cleopatra.
British
How are the Glosters doing?" The brigadier, schooled in Britain and thus British humor, replied: "A bit sticky, things are pretty sticky down there.
Meaning: In April 1951, 650 British fighting men - soldiers and officers from the 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment - were deployed on the most important crossing on the Imjin River to block the traditional invasion route to Seoul. The Chinese had sent an entire division - 10,000 men - to smash the isolated Glosters aside in a major offensive to take the whole Korean peninsula, and the small force was gradually surrounded and overwhelmed. After two days' fighting, an American, Major General Robert H Soule, asked this to American ears, this did not sound too desperate, and so he ordered them to stand fast. Only 40 Glosters managed to escape.
British
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.
Meaning: During the Kuala-Lumpur-to-Perth leg of British Airways Flight 9 on 24 June, 1982, volcanic ash caused all four engines of the Boeing 747 aircraft to fail. Although pressed for time as the aircraft rapidly lost altitude, Captain Eric Moody still managed to make an announcement to the passengers.
British
Understatement Meaning
Understatement is a figure of speech in which there is a contrast between the description and reality. As such, understatement can be used to reflect modesty, sarcasm, derogatory or complimentary tone. Understatement literally refers to what is not being said. In short, the gravity of the statement is undervalued.
Understatement Examples
I am cool! (That's an understatement)