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[yoo-fuh-miz-uh m] /ˈyu fəˌmɪz əm/
the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”.
Origin of euphemism
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),
euphemistically, euphemiously, adverb
uneuphemistic, adjective
uneuphemistical, adjective
uneuphemistically, adverb
Can be confused
euphemism, euphuism. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for euphemistic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They were, in the euphemistic words of the reformer himself, "eminently unsatisfactory."

    Scotland Yard George Dilnot
  • I do not think this is a euphemistic way of saying he had a good opinion of himself.

    Wagner as I Knew Him Ferdinand Christian Wilhelm Praeger
  • Their retreat, said Reuter, in a euphemistic message from Rome, was "attended by some loss."

  • It is not quite certain that it may not have been through some euphemistic process that Fire-worship arose in Persia.

    Demonology and Devil-lore Moncure Daniel Conway
  • Rakshas means protector, and is, probably, an euphemistic term.

    Indian Fairy Tales Anonymous
  • Each of these phrases is the euphemistic equivalent of jao, that is, 'go away, (and stay there).'

    Rhymes of the East and Re-collected Verses John Kendall (AKA Dum-Dum)
British Dictionary definitions for euphemistic


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
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 euphemistic



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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euphemistic 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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