Ever encounter euphemism examples that make you go… huh?
I distinctly remember standing in my grandmother’s kitchen one night when I was eight years old.
The adults in my extended family were sitting around the kitchen table drinking wine. Suddenly someone exclaimed, “That’s BS!”
I popped around the corner, eyes wide, and asked, “What’s BS?”
I watched their eyebrows lift. Waited as they scrambled for an answer. And then my aunt quickly answered, “It means baby shoes.”
They all laughed.
And I went back to what I was doing, not convinced she was telling the truth.
This may not have been my first experience with euphemistic language, but it certainly stuck with me over the years.
As I got older, I began to recognize there’s often a more polite way to say something:
Enter the euphemism.
The folks here at Smart Blogger define euphemism as a “good way to talk about a bad thing.”
I’d expand that definition a bit and call it a polite expression for unpleasant truths or things that might otherwise be considered taboo or have a negative connotation.
As a writer, there will be times that a polite euphemism is necessary. Other times, using them could even improve your writing.
Innuendo hints at the truth without directly stating something unpleasant or inappropriate.
For example, someone might indicate they got “extra help” on a test rather than admitting they cheated.
Being “PC” often involves language filled with euphemistic-sounding language. But in reality, political correctness is intended to be respectfully and directly polite.
For example, it’s politically correct to speak of someone’s struggles with mental illness rather than call them “crazy.”
Idioms are often cultural words or phrases that imaginatively convey an idea. It’s a literary device that’s not meant to be taken literally.
For example, people often joke about brides and grooms getting “cold feet” right before the wedding.
When the substituted word or phrase has a negative connotation rather than a positive one, you might be dealing with a dysphemism.
For example, someone might refer to a cemetery as a “boneyard.”
Now that you have that euphemism definition, let’s look at some common types of euphemism and where you might encounter them.
Given our Puritanical roots here in the US, it’s no wonder euphemisms are everywhere. From bodily functions to religion to money, there are lots of topics folks are uncomfortable discussing.
Let’s look at the nine most common euphemism categories and several examples of each.
Perhaps we have been guilty of some terminological inexactitudes. – Winston Churchill, to the British House of Commons in 1906
Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the ‘F-dash-dash-dash’ word! – Ralphie, from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase; All the right junk in all the right places. – Meghan Trainor, from her song All About That Bass
I can, however, try to move forward in a manner that is consistent with the values to which I subscribed before slipping my moorings. – Former CIA Director David Petraeus, in apologizing for his affair
Me, I’m trying just to get to second base, and I’d steal it if she only gave the sign. – Billy Joel, comparing himself to Pete Rose in the song Zanzibar
Another bride, another June; Another sunny honeymoon; Another season, another reason; For makin’ whoopee – Ella Fitzgerald, in her classic 1958 song Makin’ Whoopie
I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable. – Justin Timberlake, apologizing for his part in the accidental exposure during the 2004 Super Bowl
“What’d you do?” I said. “Give her the time in Ed Banky’s goddam car?” – Scene from J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye
In wifehood I will use my instrument, As freely as my Maker has it sent. – The Wife of Bath’s Prologue from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales
I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs. – Iago in William Shakespeare’s play Othello
Don’t ever call me mad, Mycroft. I’m not mad. I’m just… well, differently moraled, that’s all. – Acheron Hades in Jasper Fforde’s novel The Eyre Affair
If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm, When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn… – Stanza from Thomas Hardy’s poem Afterwards
It had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations. – Squealer, to the other animals in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed; He plowed her, and she cropped – Agrippa, speaking of Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra
This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of all the numerous euphemisms out there, but it should give you an idea of the types of phrases you can work into your creative writing (or everyday speech).
The next time you find yourself writing about a sensitive subject, you now have another literary device to use.
Your readers likely don’t need things softened to the point of “baby shoes,” but you can still avoid collateral damage on your way to a compelling piece of writing.
You only have one life to live — and lots of words to write — before you “meet your maker.”
The post 66 Euphemism Examples to Know Before You Meet Your Maker appeared first on Smart Blogger.