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Is there a technical term for a humorous word or phrase?

There are some humorous words or phrases in English.

For example:

"His ample girth" for "His big stomach"

"Her brood" for "Her young children"

"His porkies" for "His lies"

But my question is: "Is there a technical term for a humorous word or phrase?" I mean perhaps in linguistics?

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  • Sorry, Playgoer. You might just get away with describing porkies as humorous but ample girth or brood, never. Either way, the technical term for a humorous word or or phrase would be… uh… humorous; perhaps humour. Nov 28, 2017 at 2:13
  • Robbie, What do you mean never? You'd better look up the words in Cambridge Dictionary.
    – A playgoer
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:32
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    girth: [ C or U ] the distance around the outside of a thick or fat object, like a tree or a body: humorous His ample girth was evidence of his love of good food.
    – A playgoer
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:33
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    brood: [ C ] humorous a person's young children: Ann was at the party with her brood.
    – A playgoer
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:35
  • Sorry, playgoer; whatever Cambridge says I suspect you will find no people prepared to vote for any of that as humorous. If you see humour in His ample girth was evidence of his love of good food please, try to explain where. If you humour in Ann was at the party with her brood please, try to explain that. Doubly sorry: His ample girth was evidence of his love of good food might just illustrate girth but Ann was at the party with her brood is not a whit more useful than Ann had a brood… which is not at all. Nov 29, 2017 at 23:48

2 Answers 2

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Meiosis may be the term that you are looking for:

Meiosis is a figure of speech that minimizes the importance of something through euphemism. Meiosis is an attempt to downplay the significance or size of an unpleasant thing, though not all meiosis examples refer to something negative.

  • The Troubles (a period of violence in Northern Ireland)
  • Our Peculiar Institution (slavery in the American south before the Civil War)
  • The Recent Unpleasantness (after the Civil War, what those in the American south referred to those events as)

Literary Devices: Meiosis

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Either an epithet or a bon mot. The first emphasizes the use of a short phrase to describe a person (particularly a nickname), the latter the humorous side. A near-synonym might be a quip.

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