Euphemism: Meaning, Definition, 70 Examples and How to Use?
Euphemism in English literature and language denotes a particular group of words or even a phrase that are being used for generations together to express something sad, embarrassing, upsetting or unpleasant. The purpose of using euphemisms is basically to make something sound less critical and annoying.
Euphemism is usually used indirectly to make an unpleasant thing more acceptable make it more polite. Euphemism is often used in English literature.
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70 Examples of Euphemisms That’ll Change Your Writing Style
You can use a euphemism to say something indirectly and make it more polished and sober. You can understand euphemism meaning better through the examples that are used colloquially. If you want to change your writing style and make it more literary, you can use the following euphemistic words:
- Joseph’s father left for his heavenly abode this morning
- John’s mother passed away two days ago
- Jane belongs to a well-to-do family
- Jenny’s father is quite well-off
- Josephine is between the jobs
- Joseph does not have a home. he is now on the streets
- Russia and Ukraine have both suffered collateral damages due to the ongoing war
- David could take a loan from a bank only after offering collateral
- Despite being a differently-abled man, Dan caught the thief
- Catherine is a physically challenged woman
- Harrison is a mentally challenged man
- Joseph is suffering in his business due to negative cash flow
- Oliver was evicted from his home for not paying the rent. He is currently on the streets
- Orson is a big-boned man
- The Bristol prison let go of the thief when he completed his term
- Samson is a well-fed man
- You can save money by buying a pre-owned car
- Due to accumulated loss, the Harrison Company resorted to laying off 100 employees
- Mac was telling stories to conceal the truth
- Catherine dreamt of a rosy future on migrating to Australia
- Being hearing-impaired, Cynthia faced a lot of problems
- Cyril is speech-impaired.
- Abraham is known for his talk talks in the village
- In his village, George is known for his tell tales habit
- Both the warring kings decided to bury the hatchet
- Rebels could be defeated and arrested only after an armed intervention
- Maria has just lost her mother
- Marianne has gone to her sleep permanently
- Our grandfather is no more with us
- Lily was a late bloomer but she did well in the final examination
- Lorie came out with flying colours in her examination
- Mabel has the habit of running a little behind as far as her office timing is concerned
- Harrison is always an outspoken man
- The government has decided to help the underprivileged
- Adult beverages are sold only in bars
- McDonald is spendthrift
- McMahon is a high-rolling man. He spends a lot.
- After losing his job, Ramsay became down-and-out
- For bread and butter, David decided to migrate to another country
- After her divorce, Mary became a bit down in the dumps.
- To make both ends meet, Lucy took up a teaching job
- Victor is ill-reputed in the village for his hollow promises
- Vicky always blows his own trumpet
- Victor ran out of all his money
- Albert always sued the carrot and stick policy for his selfish gains
- Don’t hire a half-baked lawyer
- The company is downsizing the employees to cope with losses
- Jack has just been fired by the company
- Joseph sent his manager to realize the outstanding payment from Johnson
- Marianne is is a habit of window-shopping
- Uncle John is aging gracefully
- He is adding numbers (growing old)
- Boris is a seasoned cricket player
- Jackson is well-fed. That is why he is putting on weight.
- The thief was sent to a correction house (i.e. jail)
- The armed force streamlined its personnel after landing on the war front.
- Erickson is hard of hearing
- The court awarded capital punishment to Edward for the murder he had committed two years ago.
- Friedrich deserted the troops
- Igor is a little thin on the top (i.e. bald)
- He is dumb as a stump
- He is dumb as a doorknob
- He is left empty-handed (i.e. left with no cash)
- Josephine is having an extramarital affair
- Jill begged to say sorry, that was a slip of the tongue
- Being a thrifty woman, she saved a lot for her old age
- Beware of wardrobe malfunctions before going to attend a grand gala party
- The club members are simply talking shop, they do nothing
- Being a big mouth, none likes him in the club
- McPherson is a high-rolling man.
Examples in Everyday Conversation
One of the beauties of the English language and literature is to use of innuendoes or some ornamental words to construe a meaning that may not sound very harsh to depict a sorry state of affairs.
This is why something is said euphemistically in colloquial language. Here are 10 examples of euphemistic words or phrases that we use in our day-to-day life:
i. My car ran out of petrol
ii. I am facing my bad days now (i.e. hardship)
iii. Joseph, you should always make the hey while the sun shines
iv. John, will they let you go after you have committed this mistake?
v. Josephine became a little ill at ease at the party
vi. The wife shouted at her husband to run the hearth and home, I need more money
vii. Jack earns a lot. He is a man with a fat wallet
viii. Catherine was chilling out after her hard work on the drama set
ix. Nobody in the home trusts Henry as he is very creative with the truth (i.e. not telling the truth or liar)
x. Albert decided to change his flat as he needed elbow room.
There are some famous euphemistically applied words over the centuries. Some famous euphemism examples are used for centuries together. We are listing below 10 such famous examples:
i. Veni, Vidi Vici (I came, I saw and I conquered): This is an example attributed to Julius Caesar. This has become a famous saying or phrase to denote a quick victory.
ii. Eureka: This is an interjection meaning I have found and attributed to the Grecian scientist Archimedes. Though a Greek word, it is used in the English language and literature.
iii. To beguile the time (Hamlet of William Shakespeare)
iv. Don’t ever call me mad, Mycroft. I am not bad. I am just…..well, differently moraled, that is all (The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde.
v. “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” the man said. “It’s not really an operation at all,” Earnest Hemmingway in Hills Like White Elephants
vi. “Perhaps we have been guilty of some terminological inexactitudes.” (Winston Churchill, not telling the exact truth)
vii. “Where the present time has latched itself on my tremulous stay,” (Thomas Hardy refers to death in his poem Afterwards).
viii. One of the finest literary examples of euphemism is that of Sophocles. The poet uses euphemism in Oedipus, the King to refer to old age as “Our Age…”.
This famous example is given below:
O ruler of my country, Oedipus
you see our company around the altar
you see our ages, some of us like these
who cannot yet fly far and some of us
heavy with age; these children are chosen
among the young and I the priest of Zeus.
In this famous poem, the terms like heavy with age and cannot yet fly far are some of the best examples of euphemism.
You use several euphemistic words in your office, factory and places where you are employed. Mostly you do so to avoid saying something harshly or bluntly. You indirectly express the same sense to sound it better. Most commonly used 10 such work-related euphemistic words are listed below:
i. Laid off from a job
ii. Senior citizen instead of old
iii. Fabrication to mean a lie
iv. Compensation or remuneration to mean pay
v. Issue to denote a problem
vi. Concerned means worried
vii. Restroom to denote bathroom
viii. Maintenance staff to mean janitor
ix. Batting for you means your colleague supporting your case with the management
x. Gatekeeper to denote the person opening or closing the door
Very often, some words are used in commerce, business, trade and financial matters to down-tone a negative meaning. We are listing 10 such most-used euphemistic words:
i. Negative profit: running at a loss
ii. Bearish or Bear hug: in the stock market to say downtrend in share prices
iii. Bullish trend: in the stock market to denote rising prices of share
iv. Stagflation: stagnation or low growth in the economy combined with high inflationary trend
v. Buck: bill or currency note
vi. Cut Back: reduce office expenses
vii. Cutting the corner: reducing expenses by saving on unproductive investments
viii. Stash cash: conceal money or park illegal money in offshore banks
ix. Shell Out: give a large amount of money
x. Spending spree: spend money recklessly
Euphemisms for Death & Dying
Death is always a tragedy. Naturally, people tend to avoid mentioning the term death directly and replace this word with certain euphemistic words that sound less tragic. Following are 10 such words used often:
ii. Passed away
iii. Left for heavenly abode
iv. (Someone is) now no more
v. Kick the bucket
vi. (Someone is) gone
vii. Left the mortal world or coil
viii. Meet someone’s maker
ix. Eternal sleep
x. (Someone is) no longer with us
In religion, euphemistic words are used to tone down something harsh. 10 such euphemisms are given below:
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Euphemism in Literature
The literary use of euphemism in English literature has been continuing for centuries together. It continues unabated. We are giving below five examples of euphemism in literature:
i. In English literature, Stephen King is famous for using metaphors and euphemisms. One of his examples of euphemisms is: “Lodgepine Review has gone to that great writer’s workshop in the sky. The forthcoming summer issue will be the last.” Instead of writing plainly that his literary journal: “Lodgepine Review is closing, he used the term “…will be the last.”
ii. In his famous book 1984, George Orwell used the term Doublethink to denote the distortion of facts that politicians do to suit their purpose.
iii. George Orwell’s other famous example of the use of euphemism was noticed in his book Animal Farm. In the book he writes: “For the time being,” he explains, “it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations.” Here, readjustment means reduction.
iv. George Orwell, in the same book 1984, used a unique term to denote dead man. He simply wrote: The man ceased operations.”
v. J. R. Ward writes in his novel Love Eternal:
“You are a manipulator,”
“I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer.”
Here, the term engineer is used as a party to a plot.
In the English language and literature, euphemism has several important functions. The five functions are mentioned below:
i. A way to narrate indirectly (usually a negative thing)
ii. Using synonymously but using a literary sense to indirectly narrate a negative meaning guarded in a not-so-unpleasant coating
iii. Metaphorical use is another important aspect of its bodily function
iv. Innuendo is another major function of it
v. Use sober language to depict something un-sober
Euphemism Examples for the Tactful Writer
A tactful writer, poet or essayist will use euphemisms to express something discreetly and tactfully. The following five examples can show it:
i. An intelligent writer will say: I am sorry to hear your mother left for her heavenly abode (to tactfully avoid saying she has died)
ii. Alex is hard of hearing. Hence, you must say something loudly to him (this is to say that Alex is deaf or semi-deaf)
iii. Raymond shied away from committing himself to Rosy (shy away is to mean avoid something)
iv. Joseph is mentally deranged (to imply he is mad)
v. Jill is in a habit of telling stories.
How to Get Paid To Write?
You can earn by writing. The following are some of the ways to get paid to write:
Do freelance writing
Write blogs for websites and blog-sites
Write short stories for short story magazines
Write articles for a newspaper or magazine
You can become an author
You can become a copywriter
List of Most Commonly Used Euphemisms
Figurative language is used to make harsher meaning mild. We can cite the following 10 examples of it:
i. Couch potato: lazy
ii. Put to sleep: euthanize someone
iii. Running a little behind: late
iv. Well-off: rich
v. Golden years: old age
vi. Golden age: a very good time for civilization, a city or country
vii. Curvy: fat
viii. Loose tongue: a person using slang
ix. To blow one’s own trumpet: brag, tall talk about oneself
x. Reduced to ashes: burnt down or something ended in a tragic manner
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Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: The purpose is to soften a harsh meaning to make it less touching or have a less adverse effect.
Answer: Euphemism is getting for centuries together in the English language and literature. It is being used at least for the last 1200 years.
Answer: Joseph needed a car. But he was running short of buying a new car. Hence, he opted for a second-hand one.