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Is it possible for something to be both a 'euphemism' and a 'colloquialism'? If so, what would be some examples of this?

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    I found this example here: Long Island Iced Tea → 516 is an area code in Long Island → 516 now refers to the drink. "A 516 would make a perfect thirst-quencher." As people outside the area wouldn't understand the 516 reference, I think that covers colloquialism.
    – VampDuc
    Aug 26, 2015 at 17:41
  • Hi Erin, the two are unrelated, and there's no reason at all that a colloquialism, could not also be a euphemism.
    – Fattie
    Aug 26, 2015 at 19:15

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Well, a lot of slang words (which are colloquial by definition), are also euphemisms. For example: 'screwed up' and 'getting laid'.

By the way, it's 'colloquial', not 'colloquail'.

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The short answer to your question is that it is indeed possible for a word to be both a euphemism and a colloquialism. The rest of my answer is devoted to an example of one such word. (The example word piqued my curiosity to such an extent that I began researching it; I discuss the results of that research below—my apologies for wandering off-topic in this way.)


Long ago, when I lived in Washington, D.C., in the (at the time) rather sketchy neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, I remember passing a mom-and-pop convenience store that had on its door an advertisement for a remedy promising to "restore lost natures." It took me a while to figure out that natures was a colloquialism—and a euphemism—for sexual potency.

Harold Wentworth, American Dialect Dictionary (1944) passes along a bit of (noncolloquial) euphemizing in reporting the relevant meaning of this term:

nature, n. ... 2. "Connubial allure' 1941 n.w.Miss[issippi] Negro {The cunjer-bag} stole her nature ... seeing as how she didn't have her nature back. [William Alexander] Percy Lanterns on the Levee 305.

Here is the full paragraph from Percy's book, Lanterns on the Levee; Recollections of a Planter's Son (1941) containing the relevant usage:

The county prosecuting attorney (incidentally he had been the Cyclops of the Klan) asked me what to do in a pending criminal case. A woman had cut her husband to shreds with a long knife the Negroes call a crab-apple switch. He was recovering. She acknowledged the occurrence, but pleaded in defense that he had placed a spell on her by means of a cunjer-bag. The bag, still in his possession, contained a piece of her red flannel drawers and a hunk of her hair. Its effect was to rob her of connubial allure—in her words, "it stole her nature." She pleaded justification and I thought clearly she was justified. After many consultations with the distracted justice of the peace, on our recommendation the charge against her was dismissed. In the crowded courtroom we expected an emotional scene of gratitude. Instead, the woman burst into tears. She lamented that it didn't make no difference to her if she was out of jail, seeing as how she didn't have her nature back. This seemed reasonable and we asked what we could do about it. We were advised that if we could git that cunjer-bag, she could sew the piece of red flannel "back where it come from" and all would be well. We told the husband he'd be immediately chucked into jail if he didn't fetch that bag instanter. He disappeared while we waited in the court-room. In an incredibly short time he was back with it. The judge solemnly presented the bag to the woman. Everybody was happy. The couple left arm in arm, showing signs of resurgent nature.

The DC advertisement (from the late 1970s) was specifically pitched to older men, and thus seems to have had a significantly different implied meaning from the one intimated in Percy's book.

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  • William Alexander Percy, by the way, was the son of a U.S. senator from Mississippi, and the uncle of Walker Percy. His book is fascinating and disturbing, as you might expect of a memoir written by a patrician planter living in the post-Reconstruction, pre–Civil Rights South.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 26, 2015 at 20:38
  • Hi Sven: did you omit something from your answer here? Is this a long example, of, a euphemism? The QA at hand is extremely simple, "Can a euphemism be a colloquialism?", answer "Yes, of course, they are totally unrelated."
    – Fattie
    Aug 27, 2015 at 19:34
  • @JoeBlow: It is a long example of a word that is both a colloquialism and a euphemism. I intended to convey the relevance of the example to the poster's question by this wording in the second sentence (of two) in the opening paragraph of my answer: "natures was a colloquialism—and a euphemism." I apologize if that point got buried in my further discussion of the colloquialism/euphemism nature, a discussion that took on a life of its own as I looked more deeply into the word that I had brought up merely as an example (and that the poster absolutely did not ask about).
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 27, 2015 at 20:15
  • Well no problem to me of course - should you add one sentence at the start, such as, "Here's long example of a word that is both a colloquialism and a euphemism." In general here is there a danger that since, it is commonplace for colloquialisms to be euphemisms (or vice versa), and there is no special relationship between the two, your answer could be construed as suggesting, that only special unusual cases exist, or could cause some other such confusion?
    – Fattie
    Aug 27, 2015 at 20:26
  • @JoeBlow: I think the best course for me would be to add a simple yes/no answer at the beginning of my response—and perhaps also a warning that the back end of my response goes off on a tangent because I got more interested in the example than in saying anything further about the poster's question. I'll try to do that now. Thanks for your constructive advice.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 27, 2015 at 20:31
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According to JayCat5, a euphemism has a metaphorical component and a colloquial term is an informal term used in day-to-day conversation. In that sense, a euphemism could be a colloquial term depending on its use.

For example, someone might say 'He's been making his living hustlin' people.' In this case 'hustling' is shortened to display the sense of how this sentence was spoken, but 'hustle' is a euphemism for "conning" or 'taking advantage of.'

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    You know, "hustler" is not a euphemism. Imagine you had a hustler or a pimp. And you described that person as ... "well he is a, ahem, local businessman..." That's a euphemism. "Hustler" is simply a name, like gangster, criminal, pimp, thug, con-artist, etc.
    – Fattie
    Aug 26, 2015 at 19:18
  • Maybe my example was too obscure. The 'he' I was referring to was someone that is not a hustler by trade. Perhaps he was a stockbroker, and someone describing his occupation as being analogous/metaphorically equivalent to 'hustlin' (i.e. 'obtaining by forceful action or persuasion") Obviously a hustler would hustle, and a pimp would pimp, etc. The only way the metaphor or analogy works is if the local businessman isn't a hustler, and vice versa. Aug 26, 2015 at 22:20
  • " 'hustle' is a euphemism for "conning" or 'taking advantage of.' " that sentence is simply wrong, Martin. Hustle is just a synonym of "con" or "scam". A euphemism for hustle, con or scam could be ... "an interesting deal" "an unusual transaction" "not your everyday business" and so on.
    – Fattie
    Aug 27, 2015 at 11:37
  • What would hustle be a euphemism for? Aug 27, 2015 at 17:48
  • HI Martin - "Hustle" is simply not a euphemism. "Hustle" is the "real" word for a con. A euphemism, for a con, is something like: "business transaction", "interesting deal", "a rather special transaction". You see? I am more than happy to give more examples, it's my pleasure. Please ask more.
    – Fattie
    Aug 27, 2015 at 19:32
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Bathroom (or toilet, I suppose, for the UK) activities need euphemisms. In many languages, "[number] one" and "[number] two" mean pee and poop respectively. (Of course, even "pee" and "poop" are slightly euphemistic.)

We need these words so we can talk with small children about bathroom needs fairly discreetly in public.

But in northern Germany, I heard "poops" for fart, and "ah-ah" (stress on the first syllable) for poop.

Can someone help me figure out if these words meet the colloquialism test?

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Colloquialism:A metaphorical term to describe a condition mostly used at the dialect level eg; Gone bananas Euphemism :A saying describing an event, person, condition, occurrence or similar using a polite way of using a Colloquialism. ****Kicking the bucket** is a Colloquialism but when used in conversation to soften the impact of Dying it is used as a Euphemism. The context in which is used defines whether it is a Colloquialism or a Euphemism. IN the other contributions, the term Hustle (Colloquialism) becomes a euphemism when applied to someone who may be a shrewd negotiator

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