Euphemism

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Euphemism'

Euphemism Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    euphemism n : an inoffensive expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive [ant: dysphemism]
Euphemism Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Euphemism \Eu"phe*mism\, n. [Gr. ? fr. ? to use word of a good omen; ? well + ? to speak: cf. F. euph['e]misme. See Fame.] (Rhet.) A figure in which a harts or indelicate word or expression is softened; a way of describing an offensive thing by an inoffensive expression; a mild name for something disagreeable.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Euphemism'


A euphemism is a substitution of an expression that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver with an agreeable or less offensive expression, 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.

When a phrase is used as a euphemism, it often becomes a metaphor whose literal meaning is dropped. Euphemisms may be used to hide unpleasant or disturbing ideas, even when the literal term for them is not necessarily offensive. This type of euphemism is used in public relations and politics, where it is sometimes called doublespeak. Sometimes, using euphemisms is equated to politeness. There are also superstitious euphemisms, based (consciously or subconsciously) on the idea that words have the power to bring bad fortune (for example, not speaking the word "autism"; see etymology and common examples below), and there are religious euphemisms, based on the idea that some words are holy, or that some words are spiritually imperiling (taboo; see etymology).

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