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
The New York Times is famously prudish, preferring whenever possible to use euphemisms.
But unlike Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez was not locked, Hillary-style, into corporate donors and didn’t settle for cautious euphemisms in making her case.
Most people simply point at their body parts or use euphemisms, says Nandar, a local activist who translates feminist literature.
Gone are the constant cravings and father figure euphemisms; coyness is unnecessary.
The casting couch is a phrase that has only ever existed as a queasy euphemism in Hollywood.
This clarifies the euphemism, because of course a democratic leader can be transactional.
Unscripted series — Hollywood’s euphemism for reality TV — is also on the table.
And now, every Millennials favorite euphemism is going a step further.
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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