Euphemism

A euphemism is a certain type of idiom or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. 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 a 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.

Examples

“‘Fact checking’ is a euphemism for editorializing which is a form of censorship.” (Fortune Magazine)

This, like most such “catch-all” phrases, is a euphemism that covers a multitude of meanings and can have the unfortunate effect of normalising emotional states that should be identified early and acted upon. (The Canberra Times)

“The word ‘deferrals’ is a euphemism for ‘accounting trickery,’” said Jon Coupal, president of the fiscally conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. (Education Week)

Yoon Mee-hyang is under prosecution investigation over allegations she had used government subsidies for her own benefit, not to help the so-called “comfort women” — a euphemism for women who were forced or coerced to provide sex in Japan’s wartime brothels. (The Japan Times)