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euphemism

[yoo-fuh-miz-uh m] /ˈyu fəˌmɪz əm/
noun
1.
the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
2.
the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”.
Origin
1650-1660
1650-60; < Greek euphēmismós the use of words of good omen, equivalent to eu- eu- + phḗm(ē) speaking, fame + -ismos -ism
Related forms
euphemist, noun
euphemistic, euphemistical, euphemious
[yoo-fee-mee-uh s] /yuˈfi mi əs/ (Show IPA),
adjective
euphemistically, euphemiously, adverb
uneuphemistic, adjective
uneuphemistical, adjective
uneuphemistically, adverb
Can be confused
euphemism, euphuism.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for euphemisms
  • These aren't necessarily euphemisms for age and infirmity.
  • The skin-care trade has always trafficked in happy talk, revealing truth through rose-colored euphemisms.
  • At times they hide behind the euphemisms of the day, as though they believe certain subjects inappropriate for public airing.
  • Those fine feelings were spared from reality by careful euphemisms.
  • He likes salty memorable phrases, rather than euphemisms and evasions.
  • Diplomats do sometimes have sound reasons for speaking in euphemisms or for veiling their meaning in ambiguity.
  • It's remarkable how euphemisms are used in this magazine.
  • Sometimes she uses euphemisms and sometimes she does not.
  • Why euphemisms warrant a statistical index all their own.
  • Yesterday's vulgarisms may be today's quaint euphemisms, but only up to a point.
British Dictionary definitions for euphemisms

euphemism

/ˈjuːfɪˌmɪzəm/
noun
1.
an inoffensive word or phrase substituted for one considered offensive or hurtful, esp one concerned with religion, sex, death, or excreta. Examples of euphemisms are sleep with for have sexual intercourse with; departed for dead; relieve oneself for urinate
2.
the use of such inoffensive words or phrases
Derived Forms
euphemistic, adjective
euphemistically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Greek euphēmismos, from eu- + phēmē speech
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for euphemisms

euphemism

n.

1650s, from Greek euphemismos "use of a favorable word in place of an inauspicious one," from euphemizein "speak with fair words, use words of good omen," from eu- "good" (see eu-) + pheme "speaking," from phanai "speak" (see fame (n.)).

In ancient Greece, the superstitious avoidance of words of ill-omen during religious ceremonies, or substitutions such as Eumenides "the Gracious Ones" for the Furies (see also Euxine). In English, a rhetorical term at first; broader sense of "choosing a less distasteful word or phrase than the one meant" is first attested 1793. Related: Euphemistic; euphemistically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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euphemisms in Culture
euphemism [(yooh-fuh-miz-uhm)]

An agreeable word or expression substituted for one that is potentially offensive, often having to do with bodily functions, sex, or death; for example, rest room for toilet, lady of the evening for prostitute. The Nazis used euphemism in referring to their plan to murder the world's Jews as “the Final Solution.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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