euphemism

EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

Recorded since 1656; from Ancient Greek εὐφημισμός (euphēmismós), from εὐφημίζω (euphēmízō), from εὔφημος (eúphēmos, uttering sound of good omen, abstaining from inauspicious words), from εὖ (, well) + φήμη (phḗmē, a voice, a prophetic voice, rumor, talk), from φάναι (phánai, to speak, say).

PronunciationEdit

  • enPR: yoo͞'fə-mĭz"(ə)m, IPA(key): /ˈjuː.fəˌmɪ.z(ə)m/
  • (file)

NounEdit

Examples

euphemism (countable and uncountable, plural euphemisms)

  1. (uncountable) The use of a word or phrase to replace another with one that is considered less offensive, blunt or vulgar than the word or phrase which it replaces.
    • a. 1803, James Beattie, “Of Rhetorick”, in Elements of Moral Science, volume III, Philadelphia: Hopkins and Earle, published 1809, I, page 118:
      Akin to it [litotes] is euphemism, which may be applied to the same purpose.
    • 2019 July 26, David J. Ulin, “Op-Ed: I’m Jewish and I don’t say this lightly: ‘Never again’ is right now in America”, in LA Times[1]:
      In 1946, George Orwell addressed the relationship of language to reality and suggested that euphemism, not imperfect analogy, was the real danger. If we don’t use shocking language to describe a shocking circumstance, can we truly recognize what is happening?
  2. (countable) A word or phrase that is used to replace another in this way.
    • a. 1803, James Beattie, “Of Rhetorick”, in Elements of Moral Science, volume III, Philadelphia: Hopkins and Earle, published 1809, I, page 118:
      When it is said of the martyr St. Stephen, that “he fell asleep,” instead of—he died, the euphemism partakes of the nature of metaphor, intimating a resemblance between sleep and the death of such a person.
    • 2004, Carlin, George, “EUPHEMISMS: It's a Whole New Language”, in When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?[2], New York: Hyperion Books, →ISBN, OCLC 757869006, OL 24604921M, page 6:
      Euphemistic language turns up in many areas of American life in a variety of situations. Not all euphemisms are alike, but they have one thing in common: They obscure meaning rather than enhance it; they shade the truth.

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