mince words

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mince words

  1. (idiomatic) To restrain oneself in a conversation by withholding some comments or using euphemisms.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, ch. 20:
      "I ask you, William, could I suppose that the Emperor of Austria was a damned traitor—a traitor, and nothing more? I don’t mince words—a double-faced infernal traitor and schemer."
    • 1920, Upton Sinclair, 100%: The Story of a Patriot, ch. 2:
      The detective did not mince words. "It's plain that you're a boob," he said.

Usage notesEdit

  • Usually used in the negative. Hence, "not mince words" means to be straightforward, plain-spoken, or blunt.

Related termsEdit


See alsoEdit