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I came across the term "sex film actress" in the Op-Ed column The Disposable Woman. I could guess what the phrase meant, as "sex worker" is a new term for "prostitute", and therefore "sex film actress" would be the equivalent for "porn star".

I checked if this term had been used before, and there were a smattering of uses, but it looked so infrequent it seemed as if the term was coined each time. Is there a name for such a phenomenon?

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What about a programming language that's constantly re-invented. Lisp? –  Jared Updike Mar 8 '11 at 19:13

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I don't think there's currently a word for it, but you could probably get away with calling it a re-neologism. (Although in the case of "sex film actress", the re-phrasing is so pointless even by PC standards that I'd have to label it a "useless euphemism".)

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I was going to call it political correctness, but I could sympathize with why the term was used. –  Andrew Grimm Mar 4 '11 at 23:14

"sex film actress" is more precise than "porn star" as there are many kinds of porn media (and many kinds of porn) and "sex film" narrows it down a lot. Also, "actress" narrows it down to "female" but that's probably redundant based on the context. So using the phrase "sex film actress" might not be a euphemism nor an attempt at being PC, but rather an attempt at being explicit.

Given that this is not a word but rather a phrase with a pretty obvious meaning, it doesn't strike me as being remarkable. If I described Lon Chaney as a "silent film actor" you should know immediately what that means even if "silent film actor" isn't a set phrase.

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Apart from when "porn" is used metaphorically (such as "food porn"), when is "porn" different from "sex film"? –  Andrew Grimm Mar 4 '11 at 23:12
@Andrew: well, if it's just photos of porn? –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Mar 5 '11 at 5:05

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