There are many gentle euphemisms to use when firing someone from a job—release, let go, dismiss, lay off, give notice, make redundant, and even sack, to name a few—so why any company would use the murderous-sounding terminate is hard to understand. Granted, dictionaries list to end the employment of as a definition of terminate, but the word’s main definition is, simply, to end. And because terminate has deathly connotations, it’s not the best word choice in touchy circumstances.
The word is less questionable when its direct object is the job (e.g., we terminated her employment), but it sounds terrible when the object is the person (e.g., we terminated her). Sentences such as these coule be reworded to be much gentler and more diplomatic:
With Nazir’s effectiveness as a police officer compromised, the city decided to terminate him. [Daily Breeze]
“We are very upset by recent receipt issue in New York & sincerely apologize to our customer. Franchise employee involved is being terminated,” Papa John’s tweeted … [Tweet quoted on Gothamist]
Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, who reportedly disagreed with Stanton on various issues, made the motion to terminate her. [Windy City Times]
After he failed to improve—and despite his harassment complaint—the city terminated him. [Business Management Dail]