The Cambridge Dictionary defines euphemism as:
Writers use euphemisms to soften harsher thoughts or wording, especially when dealing with death, violence, crimes, sexual intercourse, and "embarrassing" things. So instead of using a harsh word like "dead," they may write "passed on" or "at peace."
Many people consider the use of euphemisms as the polite way to express the unpleasant realities of life. How many euphemisms have people constructed to describe common bodily functions that polite people don’t like to discuss? We could spend all day on potty euphemisms!
For centuries, polite society has chosen euphemism to mask rude thoughts or language in a clear, more acceptable way. A few ways to create them include:
Some euphemisms are so common, you might not consider their true underlying meaning.
One of the best euphemisms for sex comes from Shakespeare’s Othello.
Another Shakespeare euphemism for sex and its obvious result comes from Antony and Cleopatra:
Perhaps politicians learned the value of euphemism from George Orwell in Animal Farm when the ruling pigs decide to cut the animals’ food supply:
A more modern reference is from Love Eternal, a fantasy novel by J.R. Ward:
And a great example in film is from A Christmas Story. Who doesn’t remember the scene when Ralph says, "Oh fudge," while the narrator explains that’s not the actual word he used? And the eventual aftermath and fallout from that one word.
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when King Arthur chops off the Black Knight’s arms, he responds, "Tis but a flesh wound." Quite the euphemism for amputation.
Writers sometimes use euphemism to exaggerate and add irony to a situation, especially when writing satire. And women have been using it for centuries to refer to their period. In fact, there are 5,000 different ways to say you’re on your period. My favorite is Danish slang that means, "There’s a communist in the funhouse."
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