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euphemism

[yoo-fuh-miz-uh m]
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noun
  1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
  2. the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”
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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 formseu·phe·mist, nouneu·phe·mis·tic, eu·phe·mis·ti·cal, eu·phe·mi·ous [yoo-fee-mee-uh s] /yuˈfi mi əs/, adjectiveeu·phe·mis·ti·cal·ly, eu·phe·mi·ous·ly, adverbun·eu·phe·mis·tic, adjectiveun·eu·phe·mis·ti·cal, adjectiveun·eu·phe·mis·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedeuphemism euphuism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for euphemistic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The euphemistic plural disappeared at the first syllable from Blanche.

    The Thousandth Woman

    Ernest W. Hornung

  • Rakshas means protector, and is, probably, an euphemistic term.

  • They give it euphemistic and deceitful names—auburn, bronze, Titian.

    Damn!

    Henry Louis Mencken

  • We may note here the euphemistic tendency to call powerful spirits by propitiatory names.

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for euphemistic

euphemism

noun
  1. 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
  2. the use of such inoffensive words or phrases
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Derived Formseuphemistic, adjectiveeuphemistically, 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

Word Origin and History for euphemistic

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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

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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.