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How to pronounce euphemism (audio)


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Dictionary definition of euphemism

A polite, inoffensive or mild expression used in place of a more direct or blunt one.
"Restructuring' is a euphemism for cutting jobs."

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Detailed meaning of euphemism

The term comes from the Greek word "euphemia" which means "the use of words of good omen". Euphemisms are often used to discuss sensitive or taboo subjects, or to make something sound more pleasant or less harsh than it actually is.

For example, instead of saying "he died," one might say "he passed away" as a euphemism. Similarly, instead of saying "she was fired," one might say "she was let go" as a form of euphemism. Euphemisms are often used in formal settings, such as in politics or business, to avoid causing offense or to present a more positive image.

Euphemisms can also be used to hide the truth or to sugarcoat unpleasant facts, making them a source of criticism because they can be seen as a form of deception or manipulation. They can also be used in a humorous way to add a playful or light tone to a conversation.

Euphemisms can be found in many different forms, such as idioms, expressions, or words, and can vary depending on culture and context.

Example sentences containing euphemism

1. The politician used a euphemism to soften the impact of his controversial statement.
2. In polite society, euphemisms are often employed to discuss sensitive topics.
3. The term "pass away" is a euphemism for death.
4. Instead of saying "fired," the manager used the euphemism "let go."
5. The advertisement used a euphemism to describe the product's shortcomings.
6. The teacher explained the concept of euphemisms to the students during the language arts class.
7. The euphemism "restroom" is commonly used instead of "bathroom" or "toilet."
8. The euphemism "revenue enhancement" is often used in place of "tax increase."
9. The company's restructuring plan was announced using the euphemism "streamlining operations."
10. The euphemism "vertically challenged" is sometimes used to refer to someone who is short in stature.

History and etymology of euphemism

The noun 'euphemism' has its origins in ancient Greece, where 'euphēmismos' was formed from 'eu-' meaning 'good' or 'well' and 'phēmē' meaning 'speech' or 'speaking.' The etymology of 'euphemism' emphasizes the use of good or mild words in speech. In essence, a euphemism is a linguistic strategy to replace direct or potentially offensive language with more pleasant or socially acceptable expressions. This practice has been a fundamental aspect of communication in many cultures, allowing people to address sensitive or taboo topics with politeness and sensitivity. Euphemisms are employed to soften the impact of certain words or phrases, making them less harsh or offensive, while maintaining effective communication.

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Further usage examples of euphemism

1. The use of euphemisms in political speeches can often obscure the true intent of the speaker.
2. The euphemism "pre-owned" is commonly used in the automotive industry instead of "used."
3. The euphemism "correctional facility" is used in place of "prison" or "jail."
4. The euphemism "comfort woman" was used to downplay the suffering of victims during wartime.
5. The use of euphemisms can be a form of linguistic camouflage to avoid direct confrontation.
6. The euphemism "collateral damage" is often used to refer to civilian casualties in war.
7. The politician employed euphemisms to avoid directly addressing the controversial issue.
8. The use of euphemisms can sometimes lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings.
9. The euphemism "rest and relaxation" was used during the war to describe time off for soldiers.
10. The speaker used a euphemism to describe the layoffs, calling them "staffing adjustments."



understatement, vulgarity, directness, bluntness


Suffix -ism, GRE 9 (Graduate Record Examination), Scientific and Methodical, Correspondence and Understanding, Convoluted and Cryptic, Creativity and Originality, Words and Language, Language and Expression 1

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