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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for euphemistically
Historical Examples
  • It may euphemistically be called a blended wine, but is in reality diluted wine.

    The Argentine Republic

    Pierre Denis
  • Demetrius, indeed, had accomplished what he euphemistically described as "a fair night's work."

    A Friend of Caesar William Stearns Davis
  • Tony was turning pan-cakes in a skillet, while Jimmie was laboring with a dark mixture that they euphemistically called coffee.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
  • It was euphemistically described as "a present" or "a blessing," but must be regarded either as a tribute or a bribe.

    The Expositor's Bible F. W. Farrar
  • The old farm-house had been euphemistically christened the Villa Beausejour by the Colonel's staff.

  • They demanded that the power of Miloš should be limited by something which they euphemistically called "an organic regulation."

  • Thus ended a second 'run home' (as those trips were euphemistically called) of a year each.

  • The Mosaic law authorizes a father to sell his daughter for a concubine or mistress (euphemistically translated “maid servant”).

    The Bible John E. Remsburg
  • The victim was offered as a burnt sacrifice, which in Hebrew idiom was euphemistically described as passing through the fire.

    Patriarchal Palestine Archibald Henry Sayce
  • Such individuals in these days of disguising bad deeds under grand names are euphemistically designated kleptomaniacs.

    The Book-Hunter in London William Roberts
British Dictionary definitions for euphemistically


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 euphemistically



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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euphemistically 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 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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