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Questions tagged [euphemisms]

Questions about harmless rewordings of potentially offensive words or phrases.

8
votes
6answers
973 views

Is there a nicer/politer/more positive alternative for “negates”?

I have somewhere the following sentence: our platform negates the need for a middleman ... but I do not want to offend or upset the middlemen whomever it is ... there are many middlemen in the ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

What is the etymology behind the euphemism “The Troubles”? [closed]

What is the etymology or history behind the euphemism "The Troubles" for the unrest/civil war in Northern Ireland?
13
votes
10answers
2k views

What is the equivalent of “I am risking my head to say” when expressing a different opinion? [closed]

When you are in a minority, say most of the people prefer A to B, if you want to assert your support for B, you can have different moods, e.g., (1) brave and combative: "I love B so much more than A,...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the meaning of an expression “Tufted titmouse”?

I watch the show "The Good Doctor". It was used in season 2 episode 4. In flashbacks, Shawn had with his mother/caregiver (couldn't quite figure it out), she was dying and he had to move. They used it ...
0
votes
2answers
43 views

Term for elevating the value of something by naming it in association with a positive thing?

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 "...
0
votes
1answer
60 views

What is a more professional way of saying, I want to make it up to you?

A dissatisfied customer is leaving negative reviews. I want to write back and let him know we want to make it up to him, however that doesn't sound very professional.
6
votes
1answer
368 views

When did “escort” become an euphemism for prostitute?

Escort was originally a military and masculine term: 1570s, in military sense, from Middle French escorte (16c.), from Italian scorta. which was used figuratively from the first half of the 20th ...
3
votes
2answers
81 views

Is the word “flatulence” ridiculous sounding? [closed]

I ask because there is a small disagreement over the terminology that was used in the following (original) Travel.SE question My seatmate farts like rotten eggs. What ought the cabin crew do? The ...
1
vote
3answers
169 views

What's a synonym for “Bull**it” when referring to something like writing English papers?

“Bullshit” is often a slang verb used when writing essays to mean that you are writing things without much deep thought or care. I'm looking for a more formal definition of the word “Bullshit”. I ...
0
votes
1answer
362 views

Euphemism for selfish [closed]

I am looking for a euphemism for "selfish" or "selfishness" (want to express it in writing in a workplace context to describe the specific behaviour of some colleagues, but I find selfish too direct)
1
vote
1answer
525 views

Why does/did “how's your father” mean sex?

It doesn't seem to be in current use, but as recently as the 1960's, people would "go for a bit of how's your father" which meant going out in search of casual sex. I get the idea that "How's your ...
1
vote
2answers
89 views

Avoiding fractional digits when referring to an average number of people

Initial examples Having studied students in a sufficiently large number of classes, you might say something like: The average number of professional athletes per class is 0.15. On average, ...
0
votes
1answer
234 views

Is there a word/phrase/euphemism that means “fat” that includes either the word “meat” or “flesh” (used on men)? [closed]

Example sentence: He preferred people to call him __ instead of fat or heavy. I thought of the word meaty. But I think I've never heard of a man being refereed to as "meaty" (Maybe I'm wrong?)
7
votes
3answers
484 views

There's a Star in the East

The following innocuous-sounding phrase There's a star in the East is a British euphemism that warns a gentleman that his trousers have not been closed properly. The British writer Philip Howard ...
34
votes
4answers
24k views

“Your fly is open” “You mean my flies?”

Apparently, when a gentleman has forgotten to zip his pants, in the US they remind him thusly Your fly is open Dictionary.com lists the noun fly meaning: 20. a strip of material sewn along one ...
0
votes
2answers
150 views

“Opening Up” as Euphemism for Blabbing

It seems to me that whenever I'm in line to pay for my groceries, and whenever I go on Yahoo, I encounter celebrities "opening up" -- about the disgraceful acts of people who had trusted them to ...
-2
votes
3answers
864 views

Non-vulgar word for 'Clusterf**k'? [closed]

Is there a non-vulgar word for 'clusterfuck'? I searched here, but there are no related questions (that I could find). There are suggestions like 'mess' or 'disaster', but that is not the original ...
2
votes
2answers
552 views

Is the colloquial euphemism “to be volunteered” recent?

When someone is forced to volunteer for something, he or she can be said to be volunteered. For example, if a manager asks an employee, could you volunteer to perform task X, then the employee may ...
-1
votes
1answer
141 views

Is “telephone engineer” one of those inflated job titles?

Kidlington, England: The British village baffled by flocking Chinese tourists has mention of a "telephone engineer": "Why the Chinese come here is one of those unfathomables," said Liam King, 73, a ...
1
vote
2answers
6k views

What is the origin of the phrase “to beat them off with a stick”?

What is the origin of the use of the phrase "to beat them off with a stick", sometimes used with an explitive to describe the stick? The infamous urban dictionary describes the phrase as meaning ...
3
votes
4answers
445 views

Less ambiguous phrase than “digitally challenged” for someone missing fingers

I'd like to use "digitally challenged" to refer to someone who is missing part or all of a finger, but it sounds like I'm talking about someone who doesn't know how to use computers. Are there any ...
2
votes
1answer
335 views

Common idioms/euphemisms for “satisfy”

I've checked a thesaurus but I've never heard of the idioms/euphemisms listed there. Are they common? If not, what are better options? Example sentence: Mary's husband wasn't satisfying her.
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Polite/technical way to say “user ineptitude”?

Here's the deal, I work in tech support, I've to fill reports on what is the most common problems and what caused it... Sometimes, I get requests from users who lack basic computer knowledge, which ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Was “Seamstress” used as a euphemism for sex workers in real life?

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series uses "seamstress" as a euphemism for sex worker. Prior to the publication of the series, was it used in real life this way? It sounds very plausible, but neither ...
3
votes
1answer
394 views

Is “executive assistant” still much rarer than “secretary”?

According to Google NGrams, the term "executive assistant" is much less common than "secretary". Even if I try prefixing both with "his", to avoid meanings such as Secretary-General of the UN, the ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

How is the term “African-American” politically correct?

First, a note: This question is meant to have no explicit or implicit political/sociological connotation whatsoever, and is indeed born of actual and deep curiosity as to what is in the author's ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “ethnic cleansing” an inappropriate euphemism if mass murder isn't involved?

I have heard about "ethnic cleansing" as an inappropriate euphemism. Is it only inappropriate when it's referring to mass killing, or is it also inappropriate when talking about the forced expulsion ...
33
votes
19answers
67k views

Euphemism for diarrhea

I've recently been having diarrhea and may be calling in sick to work tomorrow. I work at a small company, so typically this involves emailing my manager and team with something like this: Hi team,...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Meaning of “Immorality” in the 1886 cartoon “The Mongolian Octopus”

The cartoon The Mongolian Octopus: His Grip on Australia from 1886 (presumably referring to Chinese or Asian people, not Mongolians in particular) has "Immorality" as one of the tentacles. In the ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

“Birds and bees” origins

"The birds and the bees" is a euphemistic way of referring to sex. As in, a parent 'telling their son about the birds and the bees' would be giving them "the talk" about sex. Growing up, I got "...
1
vote
1answer
164 views

“separate” and “terminate” for “dismiss/discharge” from employment in AmEng

According to Oxford Dictionary Online, separate US Discharge or dismiss (someone) from service or employment. terminate chiefly North American End the employment of (someone); dismiss: ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Adjective for 'shite'

The adjective for 'shit' is 'shitty'. And is there no different adjective for the British word 'shite'?
2
votes
3answers
4k views

Is “sh*te” a swear word?

So I was watching The Simpsons just before, the episode being "Fraudcast News". At the end of the episode many Springfield residents follow in Lisa's footsteps and start to print their own newspapers. ...
2
votes
1answer
236 views

Is there a neutral term for “politically correct”?

Although no one disagrees with making speech impartial and not offensive, some people think that the process of "Political Correctness" has been carried too far, so the phrase is sometimes considered ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

“cathouse,” “call house,” and “sporting house” for “bordello”

All three terms appear to be euphemisms for house of prostitution and are marked as Americanisms by Robert-Collins French and English Dictionary, Ed. 1985. cathouse being the most common one (as ...
23
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is the euphemism “comfort women” so heavily used?

Most reporting on women used for sex by the Japanese armed forces during WWII use the euphemism "comfort women", derived from the Japanese word "ianfu", which means "comfort women". Sometimes the ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

When did “Happy ending” get used as a euphemism?

Once upon a time, happy ending was only used in the context of fiction. But since then, it's been used as a euphemism for sexual release at the end of an erotic massage. When did "Happy ending" get ...
3
votes
5answers
178 views

What's a word for “toughish”?

I am looking for an adjective that can be used to describe a 'thug'. Seeing that toughish isn't in most dictionaries (nor did I expect it to be, but an entry in a thesaurus would have been nice), nor ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Euphemism for Poor Performance

I am looking for a euphemism to be used on a student evaluation form that relates to poor/unsatisfactory/unacceptable performance. I do not want to erode the self-esteem of a special needs audience. I ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

Whatever tickles their fancy in the US?

The delightful-sounding tickle your fancy is, I think, one of those rare idioms where the word order can be reversed and its meaning changes; the request: fancy a tickle? said with a raised eyebrow ...
0
votes
3answers
353 views

Are countries either “developed” or “developing”?

The term "developing" feels a little like "deferred success". Are all countries typically categorized as either "developed" or "developing"? Is it normal to describe a country as neither?
1
vote
1answer
2k views

number one and number two as euphemisms for urinate/defecate. rationale for which is which?

After years of never knowing which is which, I finally looked it up and it seems number one is firmly taking a pee, while number two is taking a poo. This seems quite arbitrary so I am wondering the ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Euphemisms for rejection (man-women and vice versa)

Example: The more time passed, the more sure I became she’d [...] me. The most common word in this case is reject. I'm wondering, though, what euphemisms I can use aside from turn down?
3
votes
4answers
3k views

What does “play the trumpet” mean?

In a recent Academia SE question, user moonman239 writes: Example: Bathroom breaks, an urgent phone call, or a need to "play the trumpet" (if you know what I mean) As the user does not seem to ...
2
votes
4answers
17k views

Proper usage of “passed” vs “passed away”

The current popular verb for someone who has died is to say they "passed." It sounds incorrect to me -- isn't the proper terminology "passed-away"? I've noticed that people on TV and people under 30 ...
0
votes
1answer
60 views

The word for serial maternalists?

Consider the case where a woman goes from giving birth straight into pregnancy again and repeats the cycle. Say five children in 46 months. "She's a serial maternalist"? This doesn't sound right. "...
1
vote
4answers
303 views

“dead brother's grandson” VS “passed-away brother's grandson”

One is dead brother's grandson (and) dead sister's grandson. The other is passed-away brother's grandson (and) passed-away sister's grandson. They come from part of a novel which I'm ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Do you ever use the phrase 'good for you' with a completely positive connotation? [duplicate]

I feel the phrase 'good for you' shows a sense of detachment or lack of interest and sounds so rude while the phrase 'I feel happy for you' shows a sense of interest and friendship. I wonder why would ...
2
votes
6answers
8k views

Is there a politically correct term for illiterate people?

The question says it all. What is the standard, compassionate/politically-correct term for those who lack a literacy education? I'm looking for something a little higher in register and more accurate ...
11
votes
11answers
77k views

Polite name for a prostitute [closed]

I have a character in a fiction I am writing. She's a prostitute but she takes great pride in her work. In the scene where she makes her first appearance, she does try and seduce one of the heroines (...