euphemism was our Word of the Day on 08/07/2015. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of euphemism in a Sentence
- Cougar is the euphemism for a woman who has reached mid-life, who is single, financially secure and on the lookout for relationships with younger men—as in "prey." —Kerry Gold, Vancouver Sun, 17 Feb. 2001
- Spin is sometimes dismissed as a simple euphemism for lying. But it's actually something more insidious: indifference to the truth. —Michael Kinsley, Time, 25 Dec. 2000–1 Jan. 2001
- "Invigorating" is the euphemism we use most often to describe the chilly waters off the coast, but knowledgeable Maine boaters know where to find the warmer, tidal waters just right for a midsummer dip. —Ken Textor, Down East, August 2001
- If you are "let go," "separated," "terminated" or whatever euphemism the company uses for "clean-out-your-desk-and-be-gone," remember that you do have rights. —Elsie Maclay, First for Women, July 1989
using “eliminate” as a euphemism for “kill”
Recent Examples of euphemism from the Web
To say the NFIP has been beleaguered would be a euphemism—the program has been in debt since its inception 50 years ago, and now sits at least $24 billion in the hole.
But this cough drop flavor isn't a euphemism for, say, some kind of minty flavor.
The book's title is not a euphemism but an actual place: a vast apartment building completed in 1931 on an embankment in the Moscow River just opposite the Kremlin.
Whoever uses the term vanilla as a euphemism for ordinary is seriously misinformed.
Chinese social media users have long relied on euphemisms such as the Pooh-Xi joke to skirt the country's strict censorship system.
Tomic is burdened by a childhood and a father who has always been (euphemism alert) overbearing.
That name is inspired by the 2012 incident when then-Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the House floor after using an anatomically correct word, vagina, in a speech instead of a euphemism like lady parts.
An inexplicably gentle euphemism for unforgivable stupidity.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'euphemism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
How and Why We Use euphemisms
Euphemisms can take different forms, but they all involve substituting a word or phrase considered to be less offensive than another. The substituted word might, for example, be viewed as a less coarse choice, as when dang or darn is used instead of damn or damned. Or it might replace a word viewed as insulting to a religious figure, such as the various euphemisms for God (gad, gadzooks, gosh) or Jesus (gee, jeepers, jeez). A euphemism may also consist of an indirect softening phrase that is substituted for the straightforward naming of something unpalatable. Thus, we hear of people being “let go” rather than “fired”; civilians killed in war described as “collateral damage”; or someone who has died having “kicked the bucket,” “passed away, “given up the ghost,” or “joined one’s ancestors.”
Did You Know?
Euphemism derives from the Greek word euphēmos, which means "auspicious" or "sounding good." The first part of "euphēmos" is the Greek prefix eu-, meaning "well." The second part is "phēmē," a Greek word for "speech" that is itself a derivative of the verb phanai, meaning "to speak." Among the numerous linguistic cousins of "euphemism" on the "eu-" side of the family are "eulogy," "euphoria," and "euthanasia"; on the "phanai" side, its kin include "prophet" and "aphasia" ("loss of the power to understand words").
EUPHEMISM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of euphemism for English Language Learners
: a mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive
Seen and Heard
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