Questions tagged [euphemisms]

Questions about harmless rewordings of potentially offensive words or phrases.

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Expressing the idea of killing, finishing/knocking someone off with the phrasal verb "to blip off"

Somehow I was in the knowledge of the fact that the phrasal verb "to blip off" could be used to convey the idea of "to bump off", "to kill", "to knock off" and ...
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6 votes
5 answers
1k views

Euphemism for "kiss"

I am trying to use kiss as a verb, but with non-romantic connotations. I want it to express someone's reverence and longing after another person, in a context like: In spirit, he was __________ [...
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12 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is a word for when a derogatory form of address is used affectionately?

Is there a word for when a derogatory title or form of address is used affectionately? For example, nigger is highly offensive, but some friends address each other with that word. Perhaps I'm thinking ...
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0 votes
1 answer
144 views

Where did the "picking flowers" euphemism for "answering the call of nature" come from?

Where did the "picking flowers" euphemism for "answering the call of nature" come from? Although, saying it like that makes it sound a bit obvious. I first saw it in SCP-6385: ...
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26 votes
3 answers
12k views

Is "spilled milk" a 1600's era euphemism regarding rejected intercourse?

Motivation: My daughters love and admire the character of Molly Bannaky and her descendant Benjamin Bannaker: https://www.womenhistoryblog.com/2008/07/molly-welsh-banneker.html The impact of Benjamin ...
0 votes
1 answer
84 views

Meaning of "squeeze the limit"

I was watching a movie and the phrase "squeeze the limit" came to my attention (if I heard it right). I have never heard the phrase before, and according to the Japanese subtitle, it seem ...
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1 vote
2 answers
621 views

What does "Do you know how to party?" mean? [closed]

I was actually wanting to know how to say this in Spanish when I realized that I didn't have a clear definition of it in my own language — English. My knowledge of this phrase comes from colloquial, ...
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2 votes
2 answers
111 views

What does "antelope slapping" mean (context in body)? Is it some kind of idiom or euphemism?

I just encountered the phrase "antelope slapping" in the following article (first sentence, pasted below): Ya know, when you’ve come inside from a hard day of unnecessary antelope slapping, ...
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0 votes
1 answer
388 views

What does the saying, "I don't like to eat what I can't swallow" mean?

My friend said this to me in regards to his girlfriend being older than he is. I don't understand what the saying means.
0 votes
5 answers
133 views

Phrase for a useful or comforting illusion

Looking for an expression or a phrase for a comforting or useful illusion or simulacrum. Something that is widely held, yet seldom scrutinized. Something so common it defies scrutiny. Something ...
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0 votes
0 answers
38 views

What is it about this statement?

This phrase "came to me" when I awoke from a dream (there's a reason why, based on the dream, but it's not relevant): Not catching a ball is not a crime. A rather simple sentence, and easy ...
17 votes
5 answers
7k views

Why does "blue blazes" specify the color blue, and what is the origin of this expression as an intensifier/euphemism?

A recent question posted on English Language & Usage (What does "blazes" mean in "Stay the blazes home!") asks where "blazes" originated as an intensifier. In attempting to ...
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2 votes
2 answers
189 views

How can I replace the most popular cuss words with words which don't sound overly deliberately euphemistic and outright childish? [closed]

It's not that I curse a lot, even when I'm angry, but I don't particularly like the origin of certain, particularly the most popular English ones, cuss words, so I am trying to stop using them ...
1 vote
0 answers
77 views

What do you call a word that substitutes an obscene word?

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'?
-2 votes
2 answers
4k views

Euphemism for "old" (person) [closed]

Almost every language has polite ways to say that someone is old and that someone is getting ones. Are they usual in English? If so, which is the most usual euphemism in English to express these two ...
3 votes
4 answers
766 views

Positive synonym for "skepticism"?

Hello to anyone who sees this! I'm looking for a word similar to "skepticism", but more positive. (Here, I define skepticism as the belief that we can never have certain knowledge.) Sorry if this ...
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-2 votes
4 answers
12k views

Need less offensive way to say "he doesn't know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground." [closed]

I'm writing something in a tone that is just a little too formal for "he doesn't know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground" or "he doesn't know dipshit." I need something that ...
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6 votes
6 answers
1k 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
301 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?
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13 votes
10 answers
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,...
5 votes
4 answers
59k 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
2 answers
98 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
1 answer
617 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
1 answer
2k 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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
106 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 ...
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2 votes
3 answers
2k views

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

“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 ...
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0 votes
1 answer
1k 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)
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1 vote
1 answer
3k 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 ...
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1 vote
2 answers
115 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, there are ...
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0 votes
1 answer
933 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?)
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6 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
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37 votes
4 answers
47k 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 ...
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0 votes
2 answers
391 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 ...
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-2 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
177 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 ...
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1 vote
2 answers
16k 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 ...
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3 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
755 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.
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6 votes
6 answers
4k 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
4 answers
6k 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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
477 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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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
2 answers
2k 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 ...
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33 votes
19 answers
119k views

Euphemism for diarrhoea

I've recently been having diarrhoea 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, ...
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1 vote
0 answers
6k 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 ...
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6 votes
3 answers
2k 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 "...
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1 vote
1 answer
190 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: ...
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Adjective for 'shite'

The adjective for 'shit' is 'shitty'. And is there no different adjective for the British word 'shite'?
2 votes
3 answers
9k 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. ...
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