Word of the Day: Euphemism

eu·phe·mism

noun \ˈyü-fə-ˌmi-zəm\

: a mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive

Full Definition of EUPHEMISM

:  the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant; also :  the expression so substituted
eu·phe·mist noun
eu·phe·mis·tic adjective
eu·phe·mis·ti·cal·ly adverb

Examples of EUPHEMISM

  1. using eliminate as a euphemism for kill
  2. Cougar is the euphemism for a woman who has reached mid-life, who is single, financially secure and on the lookout for relationships with younger men—as in prey. —Kerry Gold, Vancouver Sun, 17 Feb. 2001
  3. Invigorating is the euphemism we use most often to describe the chilly waters off the coast, but knowledgeable Maine boaters know where to find the warmer, tidal waters just right for a midsummer dip. —Ken Textor, Down East, August 2001
  4. Spin is sometimes dismissed as a simple euphemism for lying. But it’s actually something more insidious: indifference to the truth. —Michael Kinsley, Time, 25 Dec. 2000–1 Jan. 2001
  5. If you are let go, separated, terminated or whatever euphemism the company uses for clean-out-your-desk-and-be-gone, remember that you do have rights. —Elsie Maclay, First for Women, July 1989

Origin of EUPHEMISM

Greek euphēmismos, from euphēmos auspicious, sounding good, from eu- + phēmē speech, from phanai to speak — more at ban

First Known Use: circa 1681
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