The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has defined a EUPHEMISM as so:

“…an indirect word or phrase that people often use to refer to something embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable than it really is.”

I simply put it as “to make bad things sound relatively good.” 😀

Don’t worry. The English language has taken care of that for you. It has given you perfectly acceptable substitutes for its own words, so that you may not be socially awkward in a situation that demands you to be totally propah (cool)!

For examples:

You don’t say “I want to go to the bathroom/restroom”, but say “I need to powder my nose” (for women). It sounds nicer if I say “I have a few ‘character lines’ now”, rather than “I have some ‘wrinkles’ now”. It sounds less offensive to call someone a ‘comfort woman’ than a ‘prostitute’. Often when someone dies, people say “he/she passed away” instead of bluntly saying “he/she died”.

Some euphemisms are used to soften an expression; in order to make a blunt or unpleasant truth seem less harsh.

Spend more time with family = get fired
Spend more time with family = get fired

• correctional facility instead of jail

• ethnic cleansing instead of genocide

• collateral damage instead of accidental deaths

• letting someone go instead of firing someone

• put to sleep instead of euthanize

• pregnancy termination instead of abortion

Other euphemisms are used to take the place of words or phrases you might not want to say in polite company.

The birds and the bees = talk about sex

• adult entertainment instead of pornography

• big-boned instead of heavy or overweight

• comfort woman instead of prostitute

• use the rest room instead of go to the bathroom

• break wind instead of pass gas

• powder your nose instead of use the rest room

• the birds and the bees instead of sex

• between jobs instead of unemployed

• sleep together instead of have sex

In other words, a euphemism is a word or phrase that you’re obliged to use to prevent being termed politically and/or morally incorrect (crude and callous), even though that’s exactly what you want to be.


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