Euphemism and dysphemism would be hyponyms of such a term, with positive and negative connotations of meaning respectively. I don't think "synonym" quite describes what I'm getting at here, though, since that doesn't have the additional connotation of indirectness or obliqueness.

As an example, consider the term "better half" (used to refer to a spouse) or "missus" (used to refer to a wife).

Any ideas here?

1 Answer 1


I think circumlocution may express what you are referring to :

  • a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.

  • roundabout or evasive expression.

  • Yes, I considered this too. Of course, it expresses more the act or habit of speaking indirectly, more than a specific word or phrase. Nonetheless, you're close, so have an up-vote at least!
    – Noldorin
    Feb 7, 2015 at 0:49
  • You also just prompted another possible term in my mind: periphrasis. Encouragingly, the OED lists it as a count noun even: an indirect and circumlocutory phrase.
    – Noldorin
    Feb 7, 2015 at 0:56

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