Euphemism

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Euphemism is the use of a word (or phrase) that replaces another one that one thinks to be too offensive or vulgar.[1][2]

It also may be a replacement of a name or a word, that could reveal a secret or holy and sacred names to the uninitiated. It may also be used to obscure the identity of the subject of a conversation from potential eavesdroppers. A well known example for many is the replacement of Lord Voldemort's name by "You-Know-Who" or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" in Harry Potter. Some euphemisms are intended to be humorous.

Usage[change | change source]

When a phrase is used as a euphemism, it often becomes a metaphor whose literal meaning is dropped. Euphemisms may be used to hide unpleasant or disturbing ideas, even when the literal term for them is not necessarily offensive. This type of euphemism is used in politics.

Common examples[change | change source]

Examples for euphemisms are: [3][4]

  • restroom for toilet (the word toilet was itself originally a euphemism). This is an Americanism.
  • making love to, doing it, or sleeping with for having sex
  • mature for old or elderly
  • police action for undeclared war
  • in the club for pregnant
  • tired and emotional for drunk (mostly British)

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

English Wiktionary
The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for: euphemism
  1. Euphemism Webster's Online Dictionary Archived 28 July 2007 at WebCite
  2. Miller, Donald F. 1986. The necessity of euphemism. Diogenes. 34: 129-135,
  3. Rawson, Hugh 1995. A dictionary of euphemism & other doublespeak. 2nd ed, ISBN 0-517-70201-0
  4. Holder R.W. 2003. How not to say what you mean: a dictionary of euphemisms. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860762-8