Questions tagged [euphemisms]

Questions about harmless rewordings of potentially offensive words or phrases.

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8
votes
4answers
38k views

Origin of the word “boner”

What is the origin of the word boner? Trying to find the roots for its prevalent usage, especially in North America. According to a dictionary it means an erect penis.
2
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4answers
972 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 ...
1
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1answer
5k 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 ...
1
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4answers
80 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What was “bathroom” called in 1900's?

What would have been said around 1900 for a woman saying she needed to go to the bathroom in the state of Virginia?
25
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3answers
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
1answer
43 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
4k views

what does “flip the bird” mean?

I mean in this sentence "A buzzer sounds sharply in the distance. without looking up, he lifts his middle finger up on one hand and flips 'the bird' , holds it a moment.drops it." I dont know what he ...
1
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2answers
209 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, ...
2
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2answers
1k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
163 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.
3
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3answers
6k 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 ...
2
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2answers
86 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, ...
18
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8answers
32k views

What are the polite and neutral versions of “cut the bull*’?

I was wondering what are the polite and neutral versions of cut the bullshit? Suppose one calls his mobile customer service for signal problem, but the representative endlessly tries to promote ...
7
votes
8answers
4k views

Positive euphemisms for desert?

Looking on thesaurus.com I can find only synonyms for "desert" with negative connotations. Are there any synonyms with positive connotations? Specifically, something that invokes the sense of clean ...
0
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0answers
36 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 ...
4
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
3
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5answers
6k views

Euphemisms for pornography, violence, and hate

My company is creating a website and we want to say that uploading of pornographic, violent, and hateful content is prohibited. Some people at the company think these exact words are too direct, so we ...
-2
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
12
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11answers
4k views

Euphemism for the English word for human excrement (faeces in Latin)

In German, we call the result of one particular dump as well as the doing it itself sein Geschäft machen (to do a deal/business) This is common and fit for print. Is there something similar in ...
17
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5answers
6k 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 ...
2
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2answers
151 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
13k views

I have questions coming out the yin-yang about yin-yang phrases!

Yin Yang is the Chinese philosophy of Light and Shadow, often signifying the need for balance or that everything exists in balance. But the (reasonably enjoyable to use) phrase Up the Ying Yang ...
1
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0answers
61 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'?
42
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8answers
37k views

Less vulgar synonyms for “circlejerk”

Someone asked in the Math.StackExchange chatroom what a "more refined word for circlejerk" might be. UrbanDictionary defines this (in our desired usage) as: [...] pompous, self-...
3
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2answers
2k views

Origin of “skin” as euphemism for money

What is the origin or history of using "skin" to refer to "money?" For example, a golf competition called a "skins game" or, referring to an investor who, "has some skin in the game."
3
votes
5answers
475 views

What is a euphemism for enforcer?

As in a bad guy, thug, hatchet man, etc. who "persuades" people to pay. I'm trying to think of something overly professional and comedic. Any ideas?
-2
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3answers
171 views

What are euphemisms to “corporate whore”?

CMV: Corporate whore is not a sexist term. : changemyview A corporate whore is someone who sells themselves to corporate interests by giving up their beliefs and/or values in exchange for money and/...
-2
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2answers
3k 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
4answers
34k 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 ...
7
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4answers
4k views

Is there a word to describe female between 'girl' and 'woman'?

I've been trying to find a word that describes someone that's older than a 'girl' but not yet a 'woman'. It seems the connotation of girl is an immature female that's still growing up. Whereas a woman ...
8
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2answers
78k views

Origin of the phrase “sow wild oats”

In Collin's dictionary, to sow your wild oats mean If a young person sows their wild oats, they behave in a rather uncontrolled way, especially by having a lot of sexual relationships. What is the ...
2
votes
4answers
4k views

What does “play the trumpet” mean?

In a recent Academia SE question, user moonman239 writes: What is proper etiquette for college students needing to leave the lecture room for any reason? Example: Bathroom breaks, an urgent phone ...
1
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3answers
21k views

Does “absent friends” have definite association with deceased family/friends?

Having gotten married this year and acting as best man for my brother, one of the responsibilities for speeches was a toast "to absent friends". With some of our family no longer being alive, for us ...
3
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4answers
551 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
205 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,...
0
votes
2answers
81 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
498 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.
11
votes
1answer
7k views

Would sir like something for the weekend?

"Something for the weekend" is a euphemism heard in barber shops, when the above phrase is used to enquire of a customer whether he would like a packet of condoms. Does anyone know how this phrase ...
6
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
100 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
13k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
19k views

How did “yours truly” become a euphemism for “I” or “me”?

Rarely but occasionally I've seen yours truly appear in text when the author wishes to refer to him- or herself. An example from The Cambridge Dictionary: Some folks, such as yours truly, can't ...
0
votes
1answer
939 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)
2
votes
3answers
7k 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. ...