From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A euphemism is a substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver, or to make it less troublesome for the speaker, as in the case of doublespeak. The deployment of euphemisms is a central aspect within the public application of political correctness.
It may also substitute a description of something or someone to avoid revealing secret, holy, or sacred names to the uninitiated, or to obscure the identity of the subject of a conversation from potential eavesdroppers. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse.
The use of euphemisms is at its highest in sexual matters, closely followed by morbid matters.
- The birds and the bees
- "It" as a euphemism for sexual intercourse
- Carnal knowledge for intercourse
- Sex worker for prostitute
Recorded since 1656; from Ancient Greek εὐφημισμός (euphēmismós), from εὐφημίζω (euphēmízō), from εὔφημος (eúphēmos, “uttering sound of good omen, abstaining from inauspicious words”), from εὖ (eû, “well”) + φήμη (phḗmē, “a voice, a prophetic voice, rumor, talk”), from φάναι (phánai, “to speak, say”).
- Distancing language
- Code word (figure of speech)
- Double entendre
- Minced oath
- Polite fiction
- Sexual slang
- Slander and libel
- Spin (public relations)
- Thomas Bowdler
- Word play