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Understatement is an expression of lesser strength than what the speaker or writer actually means or than what is normally expected. It is the opposite of embellishment or exaggeration, and is used for emphasis, irony, hedging, or humor. A particular form of understatement using negative syntax is called litotes. This is not to be confused with euphemism, where a polite phrase is used in place of a harsher or more offensive expression.
Understatement may also be called underexaggeration to denote lesser enthusiasm. Understatement also merges the comic with the ironic, as in Mark Twain’s comment, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Understatement often leads to litotes, rhetorical constructs in which understatement is used to emphasize a point. It is a staple of humour in English-speaking cultures. For example, in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life , an Army officer has just lost his leg. When asked how he feels, he looks down at his bloody stump and responds, "Stings a bit."
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during the Second World War. The Meteor's development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, pioneered by Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd. Development of the aircraft began in 1940, although work on the engines had been under way since 1936. The Meteor first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with No. 616 Squadron RAF. The Meteor was not a sophisticated aircraft in its aerodynamics, but proved to be a successful combat fighter. Gloster's 1946 civil Meteor F.4 demonstrator G-AIDC was the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world. Several major variants of the Meteor incorporated technological advances during the 1940s and 1950s. Thousands of Meteors were built to fly with the RAF and other air forces and remained in use for several decades.
Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, was an English inventor and Royal Air Force air officer. He is credited with inventing the turbojet engine. A patent was submitted by Maxime Guillaume in 1921 for a similar invention; however, this was technically unfeasible at the time. Whittle's jet engines were developed some years earlier than those of Germany's Hans von Ohain who was the designer of the first operational turbojet engine.
A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetorical effect. Figures of speech are traditionally classified into schemes, which vary the ordinary sequence or pattern of words, and tropes, where words are made to carry a meaning other than what they ordinarily signify.
The Gloster Gladiator was a British-built biplane fighter. It was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and was exported to a number of other air forces during the late 1930s.
In rhetoric, a rhetorical device, persuasive device, or stylistic device is a technique that an author or speaker uses to convey to the listener or reader a meaning with the goal of persuading them towards considering a topic from a perspective, using language designed to encourage or provoke an emotional display of a given perspective or action. Rhetorical devices evoke an emotional response in the audience through use of language, but that is not their primary purpose. Rather, by doing so, they seek to make a position or argument more compelling than it would otherwise be.
The Battle of the Imjin River, also known as the Battle of Solma-ri or Battle of Gloster Hill in South Korea, or as Battle of Xuemali in China, took place 22–25 April 1951 during the Korean War. Troops from the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) attacked United Nations Command (UN) positions on the lower Imjin River in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough and recapture the South Korean capital Seoul. The attack was part of the Chinese Spring Offensive, the aim of which was to regain the initiative on the battlefield after a series of successful UN counter-offensives in January–March 1951 had allowed UN forces to establish themselves beyond the 38th Parallel at the Kansas Line.
Aircrew, also called flight crew, are personnel who operate an aircraft while in flight. The composition of a flight's crew depends on the type of aircraft, plus the flight's duration and purpose.
Number 33 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Westland Puma HC.2 from RAF Benson, Oxfordshire.
British Airways Flight 9, sometimes referred to by its callsign Speedbird 9 or as the Jakarta incident, was a scheduled British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Auckland, with stops in Bombay, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, and Melbourne.
Captain Eric Melrose "Winkle" Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC, Hon FRAeS, RN was a British Royal Navy officer and test pilot who flew 487 types of aircraft, more than anyone else in history.
The Rolls-Royce Goshawk was a development of the Rolls-Royce Kestrel that used evaporative or steam cooling. In line with Rolls-Royce convention of naming piston engines after birds of prey, it was named after the goshawk.
Henry Philip Folland OBE was an English aviation engineer and aircraft designer.
During the Second World War (1939–1945), "Arsenal of Democracy" was the slogan used by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a radio broadcast delivered on 29 December 1940. Roosevelt promised to help the United Kingdom fight Nazi Germany by selling them military supplies while the United States stayed out of the actual fighting. The president announced that intent a year before the Attack on Pearl Harbor, at a time when Germany had occupied much of Europe and threatened Britain.
Wilfred George Carter CBE FRAeS was a British engineer, who was the chief designer at Glosters from 1937. He was awarded the C.B.E. in 1947 and was appointed Technical Director of Gloster Aircraft in 1948 remaining on the board of directors until 1954. He continued to serve Glosters for a number of years after his retirement in a consultancy role until 1958. He designed the first British jet aircraft.
The Short Crusader also called the Short-Bristow Crusader and Short-Bristol Crusader was a British racing seaplane of the 1920s, built by Short Brothers to compete in the 1927 Schneider Trophy race.
The RAF High Speed Flight, sometimes known as 'The Flight' , was a small flight of the Royal Air Force (RAF) formed for the purpose of competing in the Schneider Trophy contest for racing seaplanes during the 1920s. The Flight was together only until the Trophy was won outright, after which it was disbanded.
The Westland F.7/30 was a British fighter prototype. A single prototype was built in 1934, but the type was not put in production because its performance fell far below the RAF's requirements. The Gloster Gladiator won the F.7/30 competition.
The Power Jets W.1 was a British turbojet engine designed by Frank Whittle and Power Jets. The W.1 was built under contract by British Thomson-Houston (BTH) in the early 1940s. It is notable for being the first British jet engine to fly, as the "Whittle Supercharger Type W1", powering the Gloster E.28/39 on its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on 15 May 1941. The W.1 was superseded by the Power Jets W.2.
Minimisation or minimization is a type of deception involving denial coupled with rationalisation/rationalization in situations where complete denial is implausible. It is the opposite of exaggeration. Minimisation, or downplaying the significance of an event or emotion, is a common strategy in dealing with feelings of guilt. Words associated with minimisation include:
Understatement is a staple of traditional English culture. It has been exploited to humorous effect, but it is also characterised as part of the English cultural attitude to life.