- 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
Related Words for euphemismgrandiloquence, circumlocution, delicacy, inflation, pomposity, pretense, purism
Examples from the Web for euphemism
Contemporary Examples of euphemism
The euphemism most commonly used by convicts for dying is to “be taken off the count.”A Million Ways to Die in Prison
December 8, 2014
The euphemism of “collateral damage” comes with that package.Blood and War: The Hard Truth About ‘Boots on the Ground’
September 22, 2014
Babylon could be a euphemism for Rome or it could just be a metaphor for imagined exile.Who Really Put the Pope in Charge?
April 27, 2014
Expense is a euphemism here; for insurers, birth control saves more in medical bills that it costs.How ‘Religious Freedom’ Is Hurting Everyone’s Freedom
March 5, 2014
French comedian Dieudonné has paid a high price for his “anti-establishment” (a euphemism for anti-Semitic) outbursts.How (Not) to Fight Racism and Anti-Semitism
February 22, 2014
Historical Examples of euphemism
A euphemism of kleptomania had been offered and accepted as sufficient excuse for her crime.Within the Law
He paused, not knowing what euphemism to supply for the thing his lordship must have done.The Lion's Skin
As applied to her, the term: coveralls, regulation, gray was strictly a euphemism.Attrition
Euphemism, the choice of words not harsh for harsh ideas, has its uses.English: Composition and Literature
W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
For finiteness and nothingness are identical; finiteness is only a euphemism for nothingness.The Essence of Christianity
- 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
Word Origin for euphemism
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.
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 (see also Jews) as “the Final Solution.”