Recently, on an episode of a TV series I watch, one of the female characters asks a male character, "Do you want some bourbon?", when what she means is, "Do you want to have sex with me?". Is there another word/phrase (other than euphemism/innuendo) to describe her question (preferably one not limited to the particular context of sex)?

Edit: "coffee" could also have worked in the character's sentence.

closed as off-topic by MrHen, FumbleFingers, David M, tchrist, choster Mar 24 '14 at 5:04

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    So you are looking for a synonym to "euphemism"? What's wrong with "euphemism"? – MrHen Mar 21 '14 at 21:15
  • Nothing is wrong with 'euphemism'. I would like a word that isn't as commonly used, for the sake of variety. – Agi Hammerthief Mar 21 '14 at 21:20
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    So... you want an uncommon synonym for "euphemism"? – MrHen Mar 21 '14 at 21:47
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    Metaphor. – John Lawler Mar 21 '14 at 22:35
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    Popularity is no guarantor of correctness, certainly not of suitability-to-purpose-on-hand. – Kris Mar 22 '14 at 6:47

Such an expression might be a double entendre.

Wikipedia defines this as

a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Typically one of the interpretations is rather obvious whereas the other is more subtle. The more subtle of the interpretations is sometimes sexually suggestive. It may also convey a message that would be socially awkward, or even offensive, to state directly. (The Oxford English Dictionary describes a double entendre as being used to "convey an indelicate meaning".)


Figure of speech may work, although it is more than one word. Idiom may be another. Metaphor may be more specific.

  • upvote for idiom. – Neil W Mar 22 '14 at 2:48
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    +1 Metaphor is more like it. It's not an idiom, not figure of speech either. – Kris Mar 22 '14 at 6:46

Having rejected innuendo and euphemism, you've pretty well run out of single-word answers that do the job. But if a word-pair is acceptable, you could consider the word veiled combined with another that points more specifically at the meaning you intend: veiled invitation, veiled threat, veiled challenge...

  • While I ultimately went with 'double entendre', 'veiled invitation' would also have worked. Thank you. – Agi Hammerthief Mar 22 '14 at 14:40

I have never heard of bourbon being equated with sex as a standard euphemism, but you might consider the expressions below to describe this:

Speaking in code: using one's own code words to refer to something else so that only those who know code can decipher its actual meaning. (Here's an example.) Not the same as code switching.

The reason you couldn't understand what he said is because he was speaking in code. He didn't want the children to know what he was talking about.

Private language: words used differently than for their commonly understood meanings, or using non-sense sounding words for the same purpose.

Those two have their own private language. Half the time, I don't know what they are saying to each other.

  • Have you not heard of "a night cap" (drink before bed) being used for the same thing? It crops up at least once in James Bond films. – Agi Hammerthief Mar 21 '14 at 21:03
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    That's a little more specific, and if I were saying it to Ursula Andress, neither one of us would find it ambiguous. But James Bond is better at this than that. If he told M he was having a little scotch, I'm sure the contextual pun would be obvious. – Canis Lupus Mar 21 '14 at 21:14
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    "James, what are you doing?" "Just keeping the British end up." – Agi Hammerthief Mar 21 '14 at 21:16


  1. to indicate or suggest without being explicitly stated


  1. something implied or suggested as naturally to be inferred or understood


a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, as “scepter” for “sovereignty”, or “the bottle” for “strong drink”, or “count heads (or noses)” for “count people”.

Source: Dictionary.com

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    I'm not sure that's quite what I'm looking for, as it mentions a close correlation between the two (one being an attribute of/representative part of the other). I'm thinking more along the lines of 'allusion' or 'inference'. – Agi Hammerthief Mar 21 '14 at 20:51
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    -1 What is "Metonymy"? Without that how can this count for an answer? – Kris Mar 22 '14 at 6:44

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