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I'm looking for a term to describe making something sound more legitimate or authoritative by giving it a name similar to something else with those qualities. A specific example would be relabeling "creationism" as "creation science", the goal being to receive the positive (and legal) associations of the word "science" without actually changing the thing being described.

But I'm trying to describe that general kind of rhetorical technique.

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    Isn't that simply positive association? (Or, in broad terms, a euphemism or a form of distancing.) – Jason Bassford Nov 24 '18 at 20:10
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    a type of branding? – lbf Nov 24 '18 at 20:16
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If you're looking for specific rhetorical techniques, try exergasia (repetition of an idea, but changing the words, allowing for one's own perspective to show), synonymia (using several synonyms to elevate an idea), correctio (repeating a phrase, but amending it, especially by explaining something in terms of what it is not or antonyms), or epexegesis (reinterpreting something, by repeating it in a different way - this could be providing your own emotions about something).

These are all for if something is named and then renamed in association with something already carrying positive connotations.

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Referencing (Oxford Dictionary) Noun 1. the action of mentioning or alluding to something: "he made reference to the enormous power of the mass media" synonyms: mention of, allusion to, comment on, remark about, citation of, ... more

In marketing and advertising "referencing" is a term frequently used to associate a product with something positive.

https://study.com/academy/lesson/reference-groups-in-marketing-definition-types-examples.html

Definition of Reference Groups

A reference group includes individuals or groups that influence our opinions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. They often serve as our role models and inspiration. Marketers view reference groups as important because they influence how consumers interpret information and make purchasing decisions. Reference groups influence what types of products you will purchase and which brand of product you choose.

Types of Reference Groups Reference groups can be divided into two major types:

A normative reference group influences your norms, attitudes, and values through direct interaction. Examples of your normative reference groups include your parents, siblings, teachers, peers, associates and friends. A comparative reference group is a group of individuals whom you compare yourself against and may strive to be like. Examples include celebrities and heroes.

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