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This study evaluated the efficacy of a novel group intervention intended to increase the SWB of early adolescents who are less than delighted with their lives.

Is it a typo in the text putting than before delighted or is a special combination?

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    Understatement is an arrow in the rhetor's quiver. Some folks use it more than occasionally. OK, now why did I say "more than occasionally" instead of "frequently"? Because I like using the rhetorical figure of understatement. A variation on understatement is litotes (lie' toe tease), such as "There was no small stir among the protesters," instead of "There was a huge stir among the protesters." Why do folks use understatement? I imagine simply to introduce variety into the way they speak and write. Don – rhetorician Oct 28 '15 at 12:58
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    This irony also functions as a wink from the author to a readership who are well beyond their teenage years and may have teenage children themselves. The irony creates an us/them scenario, "us" being the adults in the room, the author and his/her readers, and "them" being the bored, complaining, uncooperative, sarcastic teens. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 28 '15 at 13:26
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    @rhetorician - you should convert your comment into full answer - it is the best so far, and uses the understatement – Peter M. Oct 28 '15 at 16:24
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This looks an example of understatement used for emphasis, I suspect it's peculiarly British although it may be used elsewhere.

Delighted, as I'm sure you know, means very pleased.

Less than delighted literally means simply not delighted. In theory, a person who is "less than delighted" might be anything from very cross indeed up to quite pleased. In practice it will generally mean something closer to the very cross indeed end of this range.

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    Very well put, and I agree with your statement that it can mean a range of things and the exact meaning just has to be determined from context. I agree that it's probably more British than American, but it does show up here as well. For example, here's an American usage: Jets vs. Dolphins, your comments: Fans less than overjoyed with win – stangdon Oct 28 '15 at 16:45
  • @stangdon, thanks, nice to have confirmation that it is at least somewhat common in American english as well as British. We Brits do love an understatement, much to the confusion of several of my non-native speaker friends! – Joseph Rogers Oct 28 '15 at 16:55
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    I don’t agree that it’s particularly British. Born and raised in America, only visited Britain once, but I would guess that it's a rare day that goes by without hearing or using understatement. – KRyan Oct 28 '15 at 20:20
  • Thanks @KRyan that's good to know, I'm the opposite, only been to the states a couple of times, it was my impression that this sort of thing is used less often on your side of the pond, but I can't claim authority on American usage – Joseph Rogers Oct 28 '15 at 20:33
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Understatement is an arrow in the rhetor's quiver. Some folks use it more than occasionally.

OK, now why did I say "more than occasionally" instead of "frequently"? Because I like using the rhetorical figure of understatement.

A variation on understatement is litotes (lie' toe tease), such as "There was no small stir among the protesters," instead of "There was a huge stir among the protesters."

Why do folks use understatement? I imagine simply to introduce variety into the way they speak and write.

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    +1 for using understatement to explain how understatement works and behaves. – Peter M. Oct 28 '15 at 18:16
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    I guess one of the most widely seen examples of understatement, which I believe is at least somewhat frequent in American English, is using "not bad" when in fact you mean "very good". – Jörg W Mittag Oct 28 '15 at 18:25
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    -1 for an explanation that relies on rarely-used and technical terms on a site for English language learners. Neither rhetor nor litotes is a word I would expect to hear... ever, actually, since I don’t believe I ever have previously. The meaning of rhetor is immediately clear to me by comparison to rhetoric, but I wouldn’t assume that of this site’s primary audience, and indeed, I still don’t know what the distinction between litotes and understatement is, since I would have just labeled your example understatement and see no variation. – KRyan Oct 28 '15 at 20:24
  • @KRyan: You're right. I did not adapt my answer to English language learners. As the young people say nowadays, "My bad." Maybe I'll try to edit my answer for clarity and understandability. Don – rhetorician Oct 29 '15 at 0:58
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less than delighted = not delighted

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    Also give some elaboration as to why/how you arrived at this conclusion. – Mamta D Oct 28 '15 at 9:55
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Please look up the phrase "less than" under less in The Free Dictionary. Accordingly, it means "not at all". He had less than favourable view of the matter.

Please also refer to Longman that says the phrase is used to mean " not at all". He is less than enthusiastic about this idea.

However, according to the definition given by Cambridge, you can say that the phrase less than delighted means "not delighted".

So less than delighted means not at all delighted or not delighted.

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