14

For example:

"Cautious is just a _________ for being scared."

"Opportunistic is just a _________ for being inconsiderate."

"Not too bright is just a _________ for being dumb."

"Simple is just a _________ for being ignorant.

The word is used often in politics to expose someone as being partial to a particular idea or identity. The word in question has a similar nature to the word "pseudonym".

32

I think the word you want is euphemism. According to Merriam-Webster,

euphemism - noun

  1. The substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant
  2. The expression so substituted

It fits all your examples, e.g. "Cautious is just a euphemism for being scared."

  • Yes! This was the one. I went blank this evening and had no idea where to start when searching for the word online. It's not exactly easy to describe. – thelittlegumnut Apr 12 at 11:19
  • 2
    A funny thing about euphemisms is that people quickly catch on to the fact that they mean the same thing as the offensive/unpleasant words they replace, and new euphemisms must take their place. (Consider crippled=>handicapped=>disabled) This is known as the "Euphemism Treadmill". – Monty Harder Apr 12 at 20:43
1

It's

a politically correct word or expression ,

which is used instead of another one to avoid being offensive:

"Some people think  that "fireman" is a sexist term, and prefer the politically correct term  "firefighter"."

There is also a special term circumlocution.

According to Cambridge Dictionary :

Circumlocution

(an example of) an indirect way of saying something, especially something unpleasant:

"Economical with the truth" is a circumlocution for "lying".

// Politicians are experts in circumlocution.

  • Not the word I was thinking of, but good effort! I dare say political discourse is often pure circumlocution. – thelittlegumnut Apr 12 at 11:18
  • 5
    -1 "Politically correct" has a deeper meaning than "a nice way of saying". Its meaning becomes diluted when over applied like this. – Canis Lupus Apr 12 at 18:04

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