Often the best way to explain a figure of speech is to give an example. Hypallage, enallage, hysteron proteron, antanaclasis.
The figure known as "litotes" -- the Englishman's understatement -- has received what may come to be regarded as its classic formulation.
Here's the background. In 2009 a driver, Imran Husain, driving at 120 mph, and otherwise engaged in what was demurely described as performing a "sex act upon himself," smashed into a Fiat Punto, killing James Proctor and his son.
Here is the story:
Sex act fatal crash driver jailed
Hussain pleaded guilty to the charges
A drink-driver who killed a father and son in a motorway crash was performing a sex act on himself minutes before the collision, a court heard.
Imran Hussain was driving at speeds of up to 120mph minutes before he ploughed into the back of a Fiat Punto carrying the Proctor family, from Wakefield.
Gary Proctor, 47, and son James, 16, died in the smash on the M62 motorway near Rochdale, on 3 August.
Hussain, of Bradford, was jailed for eight years at Manchester Crown Court.
The 32-year-old, of Como Avenue, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of driving with excess alcohol at a previous hearing.
The court heard that Hussain's erect penis was exposed when motorists came to his aid after the crash.
Judge Andrew Blake told him: "At the least it must have been a symptom you were not giving your full attention to driving."
Judge Andrew Black, master of British understatement, docteur ès lettres et litotes.