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.”

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 confused

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

British Dictionary definitions for euphemist

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 Forms

euphemistic, 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

Culture definitions for euphemist

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.