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Word of the Day
Saturday, March 14, 2015

Definitions for dysphemism

  1. the substitution of a harsh, disparaging, or unpleasant expression for a more neutral one.
  2. an expression so substituted.

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Citations for dysphemism
They were given considerable latitude in determining who should become a target of their "collection efforts." (The term "spying" was considered a dysphemism, though many believed it to be a more honest description of domestic intelligence work.) David Lindsey, An Absence of Light, 1994
“Death tax” is a good example of a dysphemism, favored by lawmakers determined to do away with what is more neutrally known as an “estate tax” (or far from neutrally, by some just as determined to preserve this levy, a “Paris Hilton tax”). Clyde Haberman, "Talking About Gun Restrictions Without Talking About ‘Gun Control,’" New York Times, December 19, 2012
Origin of dysphemism
Dysphemism is derived from the Greek dys- meaning “ill, bad” and phḗmē meaning “speaking.” It entered English in the late 1800s.