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A euphemism is a word used to replace another worse sounding word. For example, 'pass away' for 'die', 'battle fatigue' for 'shell shock', 'PTSD' for 'battle fatigue', often a word created to replace a taboo word.

A dysphemism is a bit of the opposite, a synonym that sounds -worse- than the original, for example 'boneyard' for 'graveyard'.

But there are other directions to take in creating synonyms. Medicalese tends to euphemize to make things palatable, but often there are medical synonyms where the process seems to be more obfuscation or obscurantism than euphemism. For example, 'urinate' is a perfectly neutral technical term, but it is not uncommon to see or hear the (exact) synonym 'micturate'. Unless I am misreading, there is no euphemizing going on, just hiding through a more obscure word.

What would the process/describing word be for synonyms that are in another register, colloquial vs. formal (though naturally there is a lot of overlap here with euphemisim/dysphemism)?

So what I am looking for are synonyms for euphemism, that go in different directions than just good/bad.

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It's ... a thingamabob ... a whatsis ... a you-know-what ... ah, damn, I can't remember just now ... whosamajigger? –  Robusto Apr 21 '11 at 15:31
    
@Robusto: exactly. actually...what are -those- words called? –  Mitch Apr 21 '11 at 15:53
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I would not call PTSD a euphemism for 'battle fatigue'. It would be the technical or medical term for it. –  Kevin Apr 21 '11 at 16:20
    
@Kevin: OK, I see that (I was trying to give an example of euphemisms that get replaced by other euphemisms). Also, 'technical term' is a good example of what I'm looking for, one way of noting a synonym that has a slightly different but related meaning. And it is on a different dimension than 'formality' or taboo. –  Mitch Apr 21 '11 at 16:39
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A technical term=jargon –  horatio Apr 21 '11 at 19:54
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

paranym, which is defined as

a word or words whose meaning is altered to conceal; an evasion; see euphemism (by Wordnik)

and

euphemism; word whose meaning altered to conceal evasion (by Phrontistery)

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- this is exactly the kind of word I'm looking for... - but I can't seem to find it anywhere else - I'm not averse to a reasonable neologism for it. –  Mitch Apr 21 '11 at 15:55
    
@Mitch: paranym is not a neologism. Its OED entry first attests it way back in 1963, almost half a century ago. Sense 1 is as a near synonym, which is marked as rare. Sense 2 is A euphemistic word or phrase whose literal sense is contrary to the reality of what it refers to, used esp. to disguise or misrepresent the truth about something. –  tchrist Apr 21 '11 at 18:03
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General synonyms could be circumlocution, substitute or alternative. If you want to give the impression that the replacement term is nicer than the original, you can use polite term, understatement, genteelism (my personal favourite). If you're going the other way, i.e. using a more unpleasant alternative, that would be a dysphemism (exact antonym of euphemism). Though I can't think of any simple synonym of dysphemism, you could be talk about the slang term for X, the harsher term for, the rude term for

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An Understatement can be a single word? I studied this recently and honestly I can't recall of single words, I thought it was an expression? –  Alenanno Apr 21 '11 at 15:35
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@Alenanno: sure, 'tall' can be an understatement of 'gigantic', 'tree-like', 'atmospheric'. Of course, lots of understatements come out as longer phrases. –  Mitch Apr 21 '11 at 15:46
    
@Mitch: Thanks for explaining! :D –  Alenanno Apr 21 '11 at 15:50
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  • circumlocution
  • bowdlerism
  • code word
  • allusion
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A restatement refers to anything without regard to good or bad. Does that count?

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That's a general term for any kind of expression from word size to sentence to paragraph, but not really particular to a word. –  Mitch Apr 21 '11 at 17:35
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