Litotes from Top AP English Exam Novels – 10 Words


lacking spirit or liveliness

“Linton’s looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not unpleasing.”
–Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

having a chance of occurring too low to inspire belief

“Not improbably, it was to this latter class of men that Mr. Dimmesdale, by many of his traits of character, naturally belonged.”
–The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

in the habit of or adapted to

“We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly, and the men were—No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it—this suspicion of their not being inhuman.”
–Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

an abnormal new mass of tissue that serves no purpose

“It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.”
—The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

fear of the unknown or fear of making decisions

“Fanny, with all her faults of ignorance and timidity, was fixed at Mansfield Park, and learning to transfer in its favour much of her attachment to her former home, grew up there not unhappily among her cousins.”
–Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

without success

“We were going through the three first acts, and not unsuccessfully upon the whole.”
–Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

go upward with gradual or continuous progress

“Not uninspired appear their simplest ways;
Their voices mount symbolical of praise–
To mix with hymns that Spirits make and hear;
And to fallen man their innocence is dear.”
–“Humanity,” William Wordsworth

unequivocally detestable

“Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.”
–Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

more than is needed, desired, or required

“O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s.”
–King Lear, William Shakespeare

a justification for something existing or happening

“You all did love him once, not without cause”
–Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

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