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euphemism (YOO-fuh-miz-em) noun

Use of a mild, neutral, evasive, or vague term in place of one considered taboo, offensive, blunt, or unpleasant.

[From Greek euphemismos, from euphemos (auspicious), from eu- (good) + pheme (speaking).]

"Two-and-a-half months after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the notorious Executive Order 9066. As a result, more than 110,000 Japanese, virtually all the Japanese-Americans on the mainland, were `evacuated to concentration camps' in remote parts of America's mountain states. The words were his, though they were soon replaced in official parlance by the euphemism, `reception centres'."
Books And Arts: The Consequences of Terror; Japanese Internment in America (book review), The Economist (London), Sep 22, 2001.

More examples:
collateral damage for civilian casualties,
second-hand for used,
pre-owned for second-hand,
pre-loved for pre-owned,
budget for cheap,
pass away for die,
sanitation worker for garbage collector,
convivial for drunken.

This week's theme: words about words.


It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen. -Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)

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