Lets say we are talking about a book about teens that drink. In the book, the teens have fun and nothing bad ever happens. It's disguising it as a good thing, it's supporting it and it's making it sound good.

What word would you use to describe what the book is doing to teen drinking?

  • Very, very nice question. – goblin Oct 21 '14 at 8:04
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    teenagers often drink and have fun without anything bad happening. it doesn't sound like the book is disguising anything - just telling a story about something that happens in real life every day. unless the book actively supports the behavior or makes it sound good (through an all-knowing narrator or something), i don't think this question applies. a book that depicts teens who drink without negative consequences doesn't necessarily support the behavior. – Apologize and reinstate Monica Oct 21 '14 at 21:51
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    romanticising hasn't been mentioned yet .. deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is – wim Oct 21 '14 at 22:11
  • See the terminology used in the answers to this question: Positive euphemisms for desert?. Try "positive connotation". – dotancohen Oct 22 '14 at 10:16
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    @wim -- Please make that an answer. Romanticize is exactly what the OP is shooting for. From Google (as in literally from Google; from that little box they often pop up if you google a single word): Romanticize: deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is. – ruffin Oct 22 '14 at 13:00

10 Answers 10


The term glorify means

Describe or represent as admirable, especially unjustifiably or undeservedly: a football video glorifying violence [Oxford Dictionaries Online]


Sugarcoating is one possibility -- if the book is "sugar-coating" teenage drinking, it is taking something negative and adding a superficial positive sheen. Merriam-Webster:

to talk about or describe (something) in a way that makes it seem more pleasant or acceptable than it is

Glamorizing is another -- to glamorize is to take something that is neutral, or maybe negative, and imbue it with more of a glamorous aspect than it might deserve. Oxford:

Make (something) seem glamorous or desirable, especially spuriously so

I think either of the above would convey your meaning in this context.

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    Glamorizing is a good, straight-forward term for the concept. Perhaps not as "catchy" as one would like. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '14 at 0:37
  • Glamorize is what come closest in my world, closely followed by glorify. – dalgard May 29 '15 at 23:58

Here are some possibilities:

  • justifying
  • excusing
  • promoting
  • rationalizing
  • papering over
  • glossing over
  • condoning
  • whitewashing

I think whitewashing is probably the best choice.

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    I agree with whitewashing, rationalizing, and glossing over, but they are used in slightly different ways. Your answer would be improved by providing some explanation and links to definitions. – choster Oct 21 '14 at 1:45
  • Really like whitewashing, even if it doesn't apply in all usages. Physically, it is "making something appear better" by applying a coat of whitewash. Note that there's not an implication that the item being whitewashed is better, but there is an implication that it appears to be better afterwards. In your example, the book attempts to whitewash teen drinking. – Edwin Buck Oct 21 '14 at 8:01
  • Trivialising could possibly be used as well. – Nigel Ellis Oct 21 '14 at 15:06
  • I agree with the comment of Nigel Ellis above: 'Trivialising' is the first that popped to my mind (wanted to upvote his comment but can't due to insufficient reputation). – Nick Oct 22 '14 at 0:27
  • This answer has two or three excellent terms but there are no links, explanations, or definitions. Such a shame. – Mari-Lou A Oct 23 '14 at 9:22

Euphemism: A mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive. (from "Merriam Webster")

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    "Euphemism" doesn't really fit with what OP is looking for, although one of its derivatives does: Euphemize – AndyPerfect Oct 22 '14 at 18:34

Destigmatize might be the word you are looking for. Opposite of stigmatize. "destigmatize violence" returns about 700 results in Google.

destigmatize: to remove associations of shame or disgrace from


In addition to the upvoted answers (I often hear “glorify” used this way in AmE, possibly due to the Hays Code), I’d like to add the concepts of sympathetic portrayal and sentimentalization.

You could say that the book cast underage drinking in a sympathetic light or that the book offered a sympathetic portrayal of teenage alcohol consumption.


: having or showing support for or approval of something

: having pleasant or appealing qualities : causing feelings of sympathy

[. . .]

  1. a : showing empathy

    b : arousing sympathy or compassion
    a sympathetic role in the play

Source: Merriam-Webster definition of “sympathetic”

“Sentimentalization” is not particularly apt for your specific case, but might be useful to others with a similar question.

[transitive, intransitive]
sentimentalize (something)

to present something in an emotional way, emphasizing its good aspects and not mentioning its bad aspects

Jackie was careful not to sentimentalize country life.

Source: Definition of “sentimentalize” from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


bib's suggestion of glorify, and McGarnagle's glamourise are obviously superb.

Below are a few others words that - at least in one of their meanings - specifically convey undeserved or excessive praise. All definitions/links from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com. Example sentences mine....

  • aggrandise: enhance the reputation of (someone) beyond what is justified by the facts - "the book aggrandised the reckless, wanton behaviour"
  • dignifies: Give an impressive name to (someone or something unworthy of it) - "the book dignifies drunkenness as some manifestation of personal freedoms"
  • idealise: Regard or represent as perfect or better than in reality

And another that isn't necessarily unwarranted praise, but would imply that pretty clearly if describing such a book:

  • poeticise: to give a poetic quality to

Talking it up. Dressing it up. Putting it in a good light.


not mentioned yet:

  • exalting
  • extenuating
  • palliating


  • describing
  • portraying
  • depicting

neologisms and creative solutions:

  • innocenting
  • naivizing / naivicing / naivising, naiving
  • anglizing / anglising / anglicing – antonym to demonizing, not to be confused with anglicizing)
  • depuritanizing or repurposed purifying
  • evangelizing – if it’s close to promoting
  • subliming – ditto
  • madmenning > madboying, madkidding, madyouthing – pop culture reference, to expire soon
  • deconsequencing, asequencing, nonsequencing … – leaving out consequences
  • roseglassing – as in through rose-colored glasses
  • unicorning, rainbowing – similar to sugar-coating
  • stonering – as in stoner movies
  • targetdemographicing
  • politicianizing – make sound or appear politically correct
  • spindoctoring or repurposed spinning or doctoring
  • truthbending
  • ebaying, fleamarketing

I don't believe a single word would capture what you are describing. Languages don't usually work that way. It is neither necessary nor desirable to try to condense every concept into a single term. From what you say, the book is doing nothing to teen drinking. It simply omits any description of the dangers.

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    In the future, if you don't think that there's an answer that satisfies a question, at least wait long enough to see if others can find an answer before declaring it improbable or impossible, please. – person27 Oct 21 '14 at 18:29

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