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Euphemism

  • A euphemism is a certain type of idiom, which is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the definition of the word euphemism, its etymology, and some examples of euphemisms and examples of its use in sentences.


     

    A euphemism a word or phrase that is a substitute for a more blunt, harsh, offensive, or unpleasant word or phrase. A euphemism is way of saying unpleasant facts or ideas in a more pleasant, vague, or gentle manner, often using colloquial phrases or modern slang. For instance, the phrase “vertically challenged” is a euphemism for short; “birds and bees” is a euphemism for sex; “between jobs” is a euphemism for unemployed; and “pass on” and “pass away” are euphemisms for die. One may use a euphemism to avoid embarrassment for the speaker or listener, especially when addressing a social taboo that may offend. Euphemisms are often used to refer to bodily functions in a euphemistic manner, for instance, calling a fart “breaking wind” substitutes another word for a vulgar word. A euphemism may be used as a way to comfort someone, especially in a time of loss or grief. A more sinister use of a euphemism is to disguise or obscure the speaker’s intent or to adhere to political correctness. For instance, the word torture is sometimes euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation.” One must be careful when using euphemisms‘ they are generally not used in business writing. Euphemisms can be used as a kindness or as a means to obscure one’s intent. The word euphemism is derived from the Greek word, euphēmos, which means to substitute an auspicious word for a word that invokes a bad omen.

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