euphemism

[ yoo-fuh-miz-uh m ]
/ ˈyu fəˌmɪz əm /

noun

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.”

Nearby words

  1. eupepsy,
  2. eupeptic,
  3. euphausiid,
  4. euphemious,
  5. euphemiously,
  6. euphemistic,
  7. euphemize,
  8. euphonia,
  9. euphonic,
  10. euphonious

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
Can be confusedeuphemism euphuism

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for euphemism


British Dictionary definitions for euphemism

euphemism

/ (ˈjuːfɪˌmɪzəm) /

noun

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 Formseuphemistic, adjectiveeuphemistically, adverb

Word Origin for euphemism

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

Word Origin and History for euphemism

euphemism

n.

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

Culture definitions for euphemism

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 (see also Jews) as “the Final Solution.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.