• synonyms


[yoo-fuh-miz-uh m]
  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 euphemistically

Historical Examples of euphemistically

  • 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 old farm-house had been euphemistically christened the Villa Beausejour by the Colonel's staff.

British Dictionary definitions for euphemistically


  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 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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

euphemistically in Culture



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.