Euphemisms

Euphemisms

A euphemism is an agreeable or inoffensive term used to replace a rude or offensive one.

Easy Examples of Euphemisms

  • He is between jobs.
  • (means unemployed)
  • He is economical with the truth.
  • (means a liar)
  • This pre-loved sofa is for sale.
  • (means second-hand)

More Examples of Euphemisms

Euphemisms are examples of figurative language (the use of words in an unusual or imaginative manner).
  • We're letting you go.
  • (You're fired.)
  • The colonel has since resigned his commission.
  • (been sacked)
  • Adam, did you recycle Jack's research?
  • (plagiarise)
  • Would the person who left the technicoloured yawn on path please clean it up?
  • (sick)

Why Should I Care about Euphemisms?

While euphemisms can be used for comic effect, they can also be used by writers to protect themselves and/or their readers when delivering tough news or discussing uncomfortable ideas.

It is not uncommon for a negative idea (e.g., dead, old, mad) to be represented by several well-known euphemisms, and you are free to invent your own ones too. Therefore, they can be tuned to the audience. Euphemisms usually undermine the offensiveness of an idea by being polite, witty or a bit of both. When talking to a grieving widow, for example, a polite euphemism for dead (e.g., passed away, resting in peace) will be more appropriate than a witty one (e.g., kicked the oxygen habit, plucking turnips).

Key Point

If you're concerned your message might offend, start thinking about, or looking up, suitable euphemisms.
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