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mince one's words

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Verb edit

mince words (third-person singular simple present minces words, present participle mincing words, simple past and past participle minced words)

  1. (idiomatic, chiefly in the negative) To restrain oneself in a conversation by withholding some comments or using euphemisms.
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 20, in Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC:
      "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, chapter 2, in 100%: The Story of a Patriot:
      The detective did not mince words. "It's plain that you're a boob," he said.
    • 1962 August, “Let's have plain speaking”, in Modern Railways, page 73:
      We remember, too, those admirable reports issued to every passenger during the final stages of the Kent Coast electrification, which did not mince words about the disruption of normal working, but which often turned the situations into an instructive illustration of the complexity of modern railway working.
    • 1983, James C. H. Shen, “Rejoining the Government”, in Robert Myers, editor, The U.S. & Free China: How the U.S. Sold Out Its Ally[1], Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books Ltd., →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 28:
      They all sought the President's views on the world situation in general and the Asian situation in particular. Without mincing words he would comment on his favorite theme, namely, the insidious scheme of the international Communists to conquer the free world.
    • 2022 July 27, Dr Joseph Brennan, “Bridge disasters that spanned an Empire”, in RAIL, number 962, page 58:
      The coroner did not mince words, in charging the jury with their duty: "The bridge had been utterly neglected from the time that it was built and there had been no proper inspection of it... [...]."
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:mince words.

Usage notes edit

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

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