Questions tagged [euphemisms]

Questions about harmless rewordings of potentially offensive words or phrases.

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42
votes
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-...
36
votes
4answers
41k 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 ...
33
votes
19answers
115k 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,...
25
votes
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 ...
23
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
13answers
69k views

Euphemism for “There's more than one way to skin a cat”

Growing up in the 80s, I ended up hearing/using this phrase a lot whenever I wanted to express that there was more than one way to do something: "there's more than one way to skin a cat." I have ...
18
votes
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 ...
17
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
15
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2answers
2k views

Adjective for 'shite'

The adjective for 'shit' is 'shitty'. And is there no different adjective for the British word 'shite'?
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Did people ever use the word “cock” as a euphemism for “God”?

English has a lot of surprises. When I was checking the etymology of "cocksure", I found this entry in Oxford Dictionaries: 1 British A male bird, especially of a domestic fowl. Below is another ...
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,...
12
votes
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 ...
11
votes
11answers
106k 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 (...
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 ...
10
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
4k views

What's a non pejorative way of saying that a woman is bigger? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Euphemisms to replace “fat” In French you could say that a woman is plus en chair, plus ronde, which are not necessarily pejorative. How can I say the same thing ...
8
votes
8answers
7k views

Politically correct term for someone who is Internet challenged?

What is the politically correct term for someone who is not very Internet savvy?
8
votes
2answers
787 views

Is “can't” a euphemism or is it ambiguous?

People often say can't to mean won't. I am not referring to lying, but in cases where it is very clear to the listener that the speaker intends to mean won't. For example: I can't continue in this ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

A more acceptable word to replace the word “rectum”?

I wrote in a short paragraph describing how a cartoon character, after being eaten up by a shark, swam through the shark's internal body and fled from its rectum. It was meant to be a cartoon/game-...
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 ...
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.
8
votes
4answers
17k views

French Letters and condoms

Repartee (inexact quote) from a TV show: Person A: Now, we're going to be getting some letters from French people. Person B: It could be worse. You might be getting French letters. (laughter) ...
8
votes
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
83k views

Cleaner alternative for “sucks”. [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Formal alternative for “suck” Since the word "sucks" does not have an origin that would make it a good word to use in many contexts, I want to know whether there ...
7
votes
3answers
771 views

Professors and Students

When I was learning English back in school (in the nineties), there were pupils and teachers. Now there seem to be students and professors, where a "professor" can be anyone who happens to teach ...
7
votes
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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
555 views

Is “Jack of Christ” a common Britishism for Jesus Christ?

In his poem “If I Were Tickled By the Rub of Love”, Dylan Thomas refers to “Jack of Christ”: And what’s the rub? Death’s feather on the nerve? Your mouth, my love, the thistle in the kiss? My ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Is (or was) the exclamation “Nuts!” crude?

During the Battle of the Bulge, when asked to surrender, US General McAuliffe answered with the single word "Nuts!" I know that "nuts" can be a crude way to refer to testicles ("He got hit in the ...
7
votes
1answer
545 views

When was “ladyparts” first used to describe the genitalia of a woman?

When was the word ladyparts first used to describe the genitalia of a woman? I tried to look it up in the British National Corpus but it returned no results.
6
votes
11answers
20k views

Substitute for F*** in emphasizing disbelief, anger, etc

How do I replace F*** while expressing fully my disbelief, anger, etc? E.g., "I think Homer Simpson is incredibly sexy" My reply "Get out of here! That's f***ing ridiculous."
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
799 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
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 "...
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 ...
5
votes
7answers
5k views

Euphemism for “non-useful”

I was just about to tell someone how something "wouldn't really be much useful" if they leave it the way it is — which is like a much more polite version of useless, but I just couldn't find the word. ...
5
votes
5answers
7k views

Why aren't there any common words for 'defecating' and 'urinating'?

Besides 'poo(p)ing' and 'peeing/weeing' used by and to children, besides 'shitting/crapping' and 'pissing' which are spoken, not polite, says the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, besides '...
5
votes
1answer
564 views

Is there a term for a euphemistic term being used literally?

Is there a term for using a word that's often a euphemism to mean exactly what the word means? For example, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, what would the act of using the word "seamstress" to refer ...
4
votes
5answers
66k views

Is there an idiom or euphemism for when someone has an average/small penis but knows how to use it?

Really, what the question title states. In my language there's a more "flowery" phrase to say "size doesn't matter". It would roughly translate to "even a small clown can work in the big top" – I'm ...
4
votes
4answers
9k views

American word for commode

I know several words for the toilet, i.e. bathroom. However I want to know the colloquial word for the seat on which one sits while defecating. I have read john somewhere but never heard an American ...
4
votes
2answers
30k views

What is the antonym for euphemism? [duplicate]

Euphemism would mean putting across something that is possibly very hurtful in a very polite /mild manner. Is there any specific word for its antonym? The closest to this that I can think of is ...
4
votes
4answers
523 views

A term for this type of language

For example, you're in a room with three people. You're talking to one person and the other is getting kind of stupid or is doing something that you find dumb. To insult them without them catching on ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

How do we refer to body odour delicately?

Perhaps one of the most difficult things I ever had to do as a manager of staff was to talk to someone about their 'body odour'. Can anyone think of a term to use and appropriate language in which ...
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
24k views

What does the expression “for crying out loud” mean? [closed]

What does the expression "for crying out loud" mean and where does it come from?
4
votes
7answers
5k views

Software bug formal usage

Is it appropriate to use terms "software bug" and/or just "bug" in formal report? What else could be used instead? Defect?
4
votes
0answers
670 views

What is the origin of “bite me”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Meaning and usage of “bite me” Here’s the dilemma: What body part does the oft-used expression, “Bite me!” refer to? All the males (man on the street) I’ve ...
3
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...