Writers or speakers use understatement to make a situation seem less important or less of a problem than it really is. For example, if you have just fallen and hurt yourself badly, and someone asks you how you are, and your response is, “Not too bad, thanks” that is an understatement. Or, imagine you came top of the class in a test and you were asked about how you did – and your reply was, “Okay, thanks.” An understatement is the antonym (opposite of) hyperbole. However, like hyperbole, understatement can be used to create humour.
Introduction to understatements