Euphemism – definition: the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague word or expression for a more harsh one
We all know several euphemism’s, I am sure. It is why we use them that is interesting. It may be to lessen pain or distress to someone or to hide a fact from a younger person or child. We can openly say these phrases without emotional harm to the person we are saying them to or about. Is this sugar coating reality – yes it is – but they do prevent embarrassing or hurtful situations on both sides of the conversation.
Take the example of two older people discussing a friend who has died. They would not say ‘died’ rather use passed away.
In literature we can find euphemisms, such as :
George Orwell has the “The Squealer”, a character in his “Animal Farm”, using the word readjustment instead of reduction when announcing food rationing to suppress the complaints of other animals about hunger. Reduction means “cutting” food supply while readjustment implies changing the current amount of food.
“For the time being,” he explains, “it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations.”
In William Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”. In Act 2 Scene 2, Agrippa says about Cleopatra:
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed.
He plowed her, and she cropped.”
The word “plowed” refers to the act of sexual intercourse and the word “cropped” is a euphemism for becoming pregnant.
Here are some euphemism’s but by no means all of them:
- Passed away or departed instead of died
- Correctional facility instead of jail
- Fell off the back of a truck instead of stolen
- Ethnic cleansing instead of genocide
- Collateral damage instead of accidental deaths
- Letting someone go instead of firing someone
- Put to sleep instead of euthanize
- On the streets instead of homeless
- Adult entertainment instead of pornography
- Au natural instead of naked
- Big-boned or portly instead of heavy or overweight
- Use the rest room or powder your nose instead of go to the bathroom
- Break wind instead of pass gas
- Economical with the truth instead of liar
- The birds and the bees instead of sex
- Between jobs instead of unemployed
- Vertically-challenged instead of short
Do you have a few you would like to share?
What is your favorite?
Have you used any in a story?
I found this super link – take a look: