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A word that is milder than another is a euphemism, but what is a generic word that is used in good manners and polite speech instead of the proper specific term, like 'bottom' instead of 'ass'?

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    Those are euphemisms, too. The whole point is that they're not bad words that will harm you magically; as such, they can be used in polite company. There are grades of euphemism, though. The taint is not so easy to wash off, and styles change. As soon as the strategy is detected, it becomes less effective, and new euphemisms replace old. It's good for the advertising industry. – John Lawler Nov 28 '19 at 14:48
  • @John Lawler Sounds appropriate for the panto season. New euphemisms for old. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '19 at 15:44
  • But ass isn't the 'proper, specific term' for the buttocks. I would have said that bottom was a fairly standard term, for which there are many euphemisms (sit-upon, backside, derriere and so on). – Kate Bunting Nov 29 '19 at 9:00

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