is the use of a milder or vaguer word or phrase in place of one that might seem too harsh or direct in a particular context, and a euphemism is such a word or phrase. The most productive subjects for euphemism are bodily functions, sexual activity, death, politics, and violence. Euphemisms in these and other areas of language use are given in the table below.
word or phrase / common euphemisms
lavatory / bog (slang), comfort station, convenience, little boys' room, little house, loo, restroom (AmE), washroom (AmE), water closet (WC)
urinate / have a tinkle (slang), pass water, relieve oneself, spend a penny, take a leak (slang)
have sexual intercourse with / make love to, sleep with
prostitute / call girl, fallen woman, streetwalker
die / depart this life, give up the ghost, kick the bucket (slang), pass away, pass on
kill / do away with, remove, take out, terminate
redundancy / downsizing, rationalizing, restructuring, slimming down
Examples of phrasal euphemism are collateral damage (= accidental destruction of non-military areas), ethnic cleansing (= mass expulsion or extermination of ethnic minorities), final solution (= Nazi extermination of European Jews), friendly fire (= killing of soldiers on one's own side), helping the police with their inquiries (= under interrogation and imminent arrest), pacification (= evacuation and destruction of villages in war), regime change (= forcible overthrow of a hostile foreign government), and (facetiously) tired and emotional (= drunk).

Modern English usage. 2014.

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(to avoid offending by harshness, or by indelicacy) / , ,

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Euphemism — Eu phe*mism ([=u] f[ e]*m[i^]z m), n. [Gr. ? fr. ? to use word of a good omen; e y^ well + ? to speak: cf. F. euph[ e]misme. See {Fame}.] (Rhet.) A figure in which a harsh or indelicate word or expression is softened; a way of describing an… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • euphemism — index bombast Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • euphemism — 1650s, from Gk. euphemismos use of a favorable word in place of an inauspicious one, from euphemizein speak with fair words, use words of good omen, from eu good (see EU (Cf. eu )) + pheme speaking, from phanai speak (see FAME (Cf. fame) ( …   Etymology dictionary

  • euphemism — [n] nice way of saying something circumlocution, delicacy, floridness, grandiloquence, inflation, pomposity, pretense, purism; concepts 275,278 …   New thesaurus

  • euphemism — ► NOUN ▪ a mild or less direct word substituted for one that is harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing. DERIVATIVES euphemistic adjective euphemistically adverb. ORIGIN Greek euph mismos, from eu well + ph m… …   English terms dictionary

  • euphemism — [yo͞o′fə miz΄əm] n. [Gr euphēmismos < euphēmizein, to use words of good omen < euphēmos, of good sound or omen < eu (see EU ) + phēmē, speech < phanai, say: see BAN1] 1. the use of a word or phrase that is less expressive or direct… …   English World dictionary

  • Euphemism — A euphemism is a substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the listener, [ [http://www.merriam Euphemism] Webster s Online… …   Wikipedia

  • euphemism — UK [ˈjuːfəˌmɪzəm] / US [ˈjufəˌmɪzəm] noun [countable] Word forms euphemism : singular euphemism plural euphemisms linguistics a word or expression that people use when they want to talk about something unpleasant or embarrassing without… …   English dictionary

  • euphemism — [[t]ju͟ːfəmɪzəm[/t]] euphemisms N COUNT: oft N for n A euphemism is a polite word or expression that is used to refer to things which people may find upsetting or embarrassing to talk about, for example sex, the human body, or death. The term… …   English dictionary

  • euphemism — euphemist, n. euphemistic, euphemistical, euphemious /yooh fee mee euhs/, adj. euphemistically, euphemiously, adv. /yooh feuh miz euhm/, n. 1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or… …   Universalium

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