Welcome to Entertaining Euphemisms
In twenty-five words or less, according to a dazzling dictionary by Mr. Webster, a euphemism is a 16th century-old English noun or figure of speech meaning "the substitution of an agreeable or innoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant".
Why are euphemisms so engaging? Well, I'm glad you asked. Perhaps it's time to sample a few delicious double-entendres and see for yourself!
Note: While pejorative-minded people might refer to the above image as a "babe in the buff", politically-correct people prefer a more vaunting piece of verbiage such as "a mythical non-living, clothing-optional Temptron and oppressed female member of the Eurocentrist power elite and patriarchal lineage mutant albino genetic-recessive global minority".
Euphemism, n. In rhetoric, a figure by which the severe asperity of truth is mitigated by the use of a softer expression than the facts would warrant - as, to call Mr. Charles Crocker ninety-onine kinds of a knave.
-- Ambrose Bierce, from "The Devil's Dictionary" --
Being "over the hill" is far better than being six feet under it! -- Maxine
Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.
OLD ENGLISH EUPHEMISMS
What is a "euphemism"?
Well, if you must know, it's "the act of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered blunt, harsh, or offensive".
A great number of euphemisms in English come from words with Latin roots. Farb (1974) writes that after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066:
"the community began to make a distinction between a genteel and an obscene vocabulary, between the Latinate words of the upper class and the lusty Anglo-Saxon of the lower. That is why a duchess perspired and expectorated and menstruated--while a kitchen maid sweated and spat and bled."
In the "good 'old' (read over the hill, chronologically-gifted) days" of the English language, there was a dazzling amount of delightful doubletalk not to mention a smattering of simply hilarious handles as seen below:
"brandy" -- referred to as "French Cream" by time-enhanced tabbies and dowager duchesses who added it to their tea (scandal broth)
"breeches" -- bumfiddles, galligaskins, inexpressibles
"brewer" -- Brother of the Bung
"constable" -- bus-napper
"coachman" -- Brother of the Whip
"dealer in fruit" -- costard monger
"eggs" -- cackling farts
"foot boy" -- catch fart
"footman" -- bone picker
"fiddler" -- gut scraper or tormentor of cat gut
"indigent" -- Gentleman of Three Outs, i.e. without money, without wit, and without manners
"match-maker" -- buttock broker
"parson" -- autem bawler who conducts his affairs in an "autem cacle tub" (church meeting hall)
"pimp" -- Brother of the Gusset
"roundabout story or way" - circumbendibus
"salesman's shop" -- Bow-Wow Shop (because the servant barks and the master bites)
"Sergeant At Arms" -- Brother of the Coif
"schoolmaster" -- bum brusher
"shoe-making" -- the art of gentle craft
"tea" -- cat lap, scandal broth
"undertaker" -- embalming surgeon
"upholsterer" -- bug-hunter
"wife" -- comfortable importance
He's one sandwich short of a picnic! (a polite way of say he's a tad fishy!)
What exactly does "STRIP ME NAKED" mean?
"Well, if you really must know, it's a colorful 18th century expression meaning "gin".
OTHER WORDS FOR OTHER PLACES
There are plenty of words for places we need but would like to avoid in polite conversation:
Brothel: common bawdy house, house of entertainment, house of ill-repute, massage parlor, red-light establishment, (where littering and loitering are strictly prohibited).
Garbage Dump: Sanitary landfill, municipal refuse yard
Jail: hoosegow, holding unit, secure facility
One Room Living Unit: alternative lifestyle choice, smart-growth choice, studio suite, efficiency unit, granny suite, transit-oriented young lifestyle choice
Bathroom: ablution hut, boghouse, comfort station, garderobe, gentleman's quarters, "his" and "hers", House of Honor, ladies room, lavatory, loo, men's room, necessarium, place of convenience, place of ease, porcelain palace, public washroom, powder room, privy, restroom, room 100, the john, the jakes, the redorter, the tinkle pantry, throne room, washroom, water closet, W.C.
Elderly Accommodation: senior-oriented residence, continum of care lifestyle community, all-inclusive retirement living community, full-service lifestyle residence, assisted-living facility, independent-living facility, wellness and vitality residence
TO ANSWER THE CALL OF NATURE IN OTHER WORDS:
To powder one's nose, to see a man about a dog, to frost a rock, to relieve oneself (by urinating or defecating), to spend a penny, to pay a visit to the head or to the john.
PRETTY NAMES FOR UNPLEASANT REALITIES OF LIFE
Neil Postman in his book, Crazy Talk Stupid Talk (New York, Delacorte Press, 1976), suggests that a euphemism is an exalted term used in place of a down-to-earth term, or "an attempt to give prettier term to an uglier reality."
And, speaking of "death" and "taxes", American spin doctors have come up with a new term to describe the ravages of war and innovative ways to use tax-payers money to rebuild sandcastles in Iraq as "post-kinetic development".
So, taking our cue from this learned author, there are oodles of pretty names one can use to describe unpleasant realities of life such as "death" and "taxes".
It seems that "taxes" are getting such a bad rap these days that spin-doctors have been working overtime to come up with new variations on one very unpleasant civic duty, to submit to taxation ...otherwise known as "the process of plucking the most amount of feathers from a goose with the least amount of hissing." Whoa, let's celebrate "Tax Free Day"!
It is therefore not surprising that we have an amusing array of terms for taxation: "access fees/charges", "carbon footprint contributions", "civic assessment fees", "direct universal service support", "economic incentives", "economic stimulus packages", "environmental externality factors", "impact fees", "income shifting options", "innovative sources of financing", "late fees", "redistribution of wealth alternatives", "redeployment of revenue", "restructuring of budgets", "revenue enhancements", "service charges", "socially-responsible public investments", "social support subsidies", "transfer payments", "universal service charges", "value-added revenue opportunities", and "user-fees".
As some have suggested, "taxation" (is a legal and mandatory system of professional if not progressive pick-pocketing), better known as a marvellous method of "robbing Peter to pay Paul".
And, when one is complaining about why one's wallet is just a tad lighter these days, just remember what Mark Twain had to say on this matter: "The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin."
A TIME-HONORED TABOO TOPIC
Do you dread using the "d" word?
The subject of unpleasant realities of life would not be complete without a glimpse at the time-honored taboo topic of "death". And, if one wishes to avoid using this five-letter word, there are a myriad of other quaint if not quirky expressions from which to choose:
arbitrary deprivation of life, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, asleep, assumed room temperature, ate his last supper
basting the formaldehyde turkey, be taken, bereft of life, bite the biscuit, bite the big one, bite the dust, bought the farm, bump[ed] off, buried, buy a pine condo, buy it
cadaverous, called to a higher place, carked it, cashed in their chips, cashed out, ceased to be, check out, checking out the grass from underneath, cold, conk, croak, crossed over, crossed the bar, crossed the River Styx, cut-down, cut-off
danced the last dance, deceased, dead, dead as a doornail, dead meat, defunct, demise, departed, destroyed, diagnostic misadventure of high magnitude, dirt, dirt nap, disappeared without warning, disincentivized, donated the liver pate, done for
eat it, enjoy his/her last dance, enter the slumber room, erased, executed, expended, expired, executive actioned, extinction of the person
faded quickly, failed to fulfill his/her wellness potential, failed to thrive, fatally wounded, final solution, finished, fragged, fried
gathered to his people, get your wings, give up the ghost, going into the fertilizer business, going to the big place in the sky, gone, gone belly-up, gone into the west, gone to a better place, gone to meet their Maker, gone to be with the Lord, gone to sleep, got a one-way ticket
in a better place, in Heaven/Hell, in a kinder gentler place, in repose, in his/her box, in the casket, in the clover, in the eternity box, in the grave, in the ground, in the mortuary, interred
joined the choir invisible, joined the White Buffalo in the sky
kicked the bucket, kicked off, killed
late, left us, lie down with one's fathers, lifeless, liquidated, living-impaired, lost
member of the Boot Hill brigade, metabolic processes are now history, mortified
negative patient care outcome, neutralized, no longer a factor, no longer with us, no more, non-living, nonviable
offed, off the twig
paid Charon's fare, passed away/on/over, pegged it, perished, permanently indisposed, permanently out of print, pining for the fjords, popped his/her clogs, popped off, promoted to Sub-Terranean Truffle Inspector, pushing up the daisies, put down
remains, rest in peace (R.I.P.), returned to the ground, rode off into the sunset, rubbed out, run down the curtain
sell the farm, shuffled off the mortal coil, six-feet under, sleeping with the fishes, snuffed, snuff it, snuffed out, sprouted wings, stiff, stone-dead, succombed, suffered an unfortunate turn of events, sustained a therapeutic misadventure
taking a dirt nap, taken from us, terminal episode, terminally-inconvenienced, terminated, terminated with extreme prejudice, that good night, took his/her last breath, transitioned, T.U. - Toes Up, turn their toes up, turn into a ghost
wandering the Elysian fields, went to the big blue baseball field/shopping mall in the sky, whacked, with the ancestors, and last but not least, worm food.
ON THE SUBJECT OF A DEAD BLUE PARROT
GENTLE WORDS FOR GENTLE MEN?
The eighteenth century is full of fun...from inns of inequity to palaces of pleasure, and the English language from Shakespeare onwards has been a riot of linguistic wit and mirthful mayhem.
Here are a few choice phrases referring to the flamboyance of some fly-by-night fellows.
Gentleman Commoner: An empty bottle.
Gentleman's Companion: A louse or gnit.
Gentleman's Master: A highway robber.
Gentleman of Three Ins: A gentleman who is in debt, in jail, and in danger of remaining there for life.
Gentleman of Three Outs: A gentleman who is without credit/money, without wit, and without manners.
Source: "The Vulgar Tongue", Francis Grose, 1785, p. 132.
A VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION
What does one call a person who studies euphemisms?
BEWARE OF "DANGEROUS GASES"!
The English language is full of colorful terms for the expulsion of "vagrant airs and volatile subjects" by members of the animal kingdom.
Those who perpetrate foul winds in enclosed places or at inopportune times such as "Puff the Methane Dinosaur" may be referred to as "frigging freepers" "flaming farteurs", "flutterblasters", "fundusbreakers" or simply those who are known by family and friends as "Flatus Factory.
The "random if not reticent release of a wayward wind", or perhaps several "entertaining emissions" may also be referred to in mixed company at a social gathering as "a cocktail party "calico", "a party paradiddle" or "a sumptuous slider". Scientific snobs also known as "Princes of Plotch & Scotch" prefer to define these "enigmatic emanations" as "self-processed, self-propelled and self-stoked organic fuels in a self-contained power plant".
Well, it seems that there are a variety of cute code words for the aging "baby-boomers" who are now referred to by marketers as "zoomers"!
The real question is whether they're willing to accept the entertaining euphemisms for the "elderly":
active-lifestyler, advanced in years, bat, biddy, chronologically-gifted, contemplative character, codger, cougar, crone, curmudgeon, dentured dandy, empty-nester, fogey, Freedom 55er, gaffer, geezer, golden-ager, granny, gramps, grey-hairs, Little Old Lady (LOL), Little Old Man (LOM), longer-living, mature individual, ninny, noteworthy for his/her character lines, octogenarian, old biddy, old coot, old dog, old fox, old soul, oldster, old-timer, over-the-hill, positive ager, prime-timer, retiree, salt-and-pepper generation, self-caring person, senior citizen, senior, seasoned citizen, silver fox, Third-Ager, wise woman, women of a certain age, woman of substance, and young-at-heart.
PITHY PUCK POLL
What is a C-Gull?
FROM THE "DEVIL'S DICTIONARY"
Ambrose Bierce, author of "The Devil's Dictionary" had a dandy definition of "euphemism, n. A figure of speech in which the speaker or writer makes his expression a good deal softer than the facts would warrant him in doing... ---, n. In rehetoric, a figure by which the severe asperity of truth is mitigated by the use of a softer expression than the facts would warrant - as, to call Mr. Charles Cocker nine-ty-nine kinds of a knave."
And, speaking of colorful expressions one might use use in everyday conversation instead of "knave", one could say, "My how I adore 'The Arrogant Frog', and 'The Roaring Gimlet' in the afternoon television drama about the nocturnal habits of Vikings, biodegradable hexagons, and the proper use of gravity in 'As the World Churns'!
Image Credit: Arrogant Frog wine label - ahholeahhole.blogspot.com/arrogant_frog_wine_label1.jpg
WHILE FAT CATS GET FATTER - The rest of us just line their litter boxes.
Today, the word "fat" has been banished from our vocabulary except when referring to those with lots of green backs stuffed in their portly posteriors or gold coins in their gluteus maximus.
So, what words can we use instead"? Well, thankfully, there are many from which to choose:
-- a person of size, ample amusement, a few extra pounds (usually found as a description in dating profiles)
-- big-boned or buxom babe (often a description of a female vocalist)
-- chubby or chunky (babies or chocolate bars)
-- corpulent, cuddly and curvy (females)
-- fluffy, full-bodied, full-figured (female)
-- girth-control challenged or gravitationally-challenged (people)
-- gargantuan (big piece of property or product)
-- generously-proportioned or gently-rounded (people)
-- hefty (large reliable PVC garbage bags)
-- heavyset, heavyweight, husky-build (boxers, weight-lifters, wrestlers, truck-drivers)
-- ladies with love-handles or larger feminine form (females)
-- more of me to love (large Lotharios and wide wenches)
-- obese, overweight
-- paunchy, pleasingly plump, plentiful, porcine, portly, potbellied (people)
-- plus-sized or prime figures (clothing or people)
-- queen-sized (mattresses & beds)
-- robust, rounded, rotund or Rubenesque (people)
-- stocky or stout build (people)
-- super-sized (meals)
-- X-large (clothing)
Image Credit: skydancingblog.com/klarcs-fat-cat-cartoon1
LOVELY LITTLE LINGUISTIC LINKS
- ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT EUPHEMISMS
Want to be the authority on euphemisms at your politically-correct place of work -- well pig out on this bit of pithy prose.
- AMUSING EUPHEMISM GENERATOR
Stuck for just the right expression to leave your colleagues at work scratching their head for more wacky wisdom from a wonky wordsmith...well, you've come to the right spot!
- EUPHEMISMS FOR ENGLISH LEARNERS
Here's a handy list of euphemisms for English As a Second Language Learners.
- BUSINESS BAFFLEGAB
Entertaining euphemisms are ever popular in today's workplace where "uber" people can be found grazing on a "level playing field" or going "outside the box" to secure the "action items, and "deliverables", i.e. the best "low-hanging fruit" on the blo
- MBA MUMBO-JUMBO
What every newly minted MBA knows...yet the only thing that will satisfy him is a "golden parachute" or a "gold key to the executive washroom"!
- POTTY OR POLITE PROSE?
From "normal involuntary attrition" to "wardrobe malfunction", the English language has soft ways to cushion the landing of bare, cold, or hard facts.
- THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE - EUPHEMISMS
A fine contribution by H.L. Mencken, (1880-1956).
- A LOVELY LONG LIST OF ENTERTAINING EUPHEMISMS FOR STUPIDITY
This list offers a wide selection of entertaining euphemisms for the cerebrally-challenged.
A HAPPINESS-CHALLENGED HUNK?
He once applied for a job...but possessing an intellect rivalled only by garden tools, regrettably he did not qualify for the entry-level position in the cutting-edge and highly competitive field of talking to plastic plants let alone watering them.
Image Credit: Marked Man at flickr.com
CHRISTMAS CRACKERS BEGONE!
In the world of political correctness, inspired by a deep desire to be as "inoffensive" as possible, the word "Christmas", let alone "crackers", has for all intents and purposes been banished. In it's place, we have a better brand of bland, blah or downright balmy-- take your pick! And, you can forget about "Jack Frost nipping at your door", because he's now known as a "person of snow" you know.
If truth be told, as long as respectful retailers offer us meaningless merchandise occasions, including a secular symbol like Santa to sell stuff, consumers will be happy.
So, in case you're stuck for words or knowing what to say, you've got plenty of entertaining euphemisms for this festive time of year and all that goes with it:
"I'm pleased to see that the Secular Seasonal Spirit is alive and well!", "Happy Hanukkah", "Happy Kwanza", "Happy Holidays", "Happy Respect for the Mid-Life, Aged and Newborn Day", "Have a Happy Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Day of Winter", "From Santa Claus -- A purely platonic expression of innoffensive mutual affection!", "Season's Greetings", "Wishing You and Yours a Whateveryouwannakah", "Hope you're enjoying a wonderful Winter Wonderland!", or just "Merry Mythmas".
Oh, and don't forget to say how much you appreciate that "tacky trinket tree" in the mall, in your neighobors back yard, or in the office.
T'was the night before Christmas in the Politically-Correct Land of Wink'n Blink'n & Nod
That the experientially-enhanced, generously-proportioned male set out on a sleigh with nine anthropomoric animals to deliver gifts to members of the younger generation.If truth be told, Santa Claus was embarrassed at having to undergo full body scans or that other peculiar practice involving pesky pat-downs. He was equally dismayed at the thought of having to tiptoe through the tulips (so as not to disturb the fairies), and totally exhausted by the latest health edict demanding that he adhere to Section 42 subsection 42.1.2 detailing the correct way to blow a kiss (so as not to contaminate anyone or anything within three feet or its equivalent in the metric system). And finally, he was just a tad fatigued by the notion that he might actually have to remember all those fancy new politically-correct buzzwords, (or he could face the full force of the law for failing to use the appropriate language in front of minors or other very important people).
Frankly dear readers, exactly what was he supposed to do?
"Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck,
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves".
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labour conditions at the North Pole
were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better hire more than just reindeer.
So Dancer and Prancer, Comet and Cupid
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and that really looked stupid!
The runners were removed from Santa's fine sleigh;
And the struts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
Some people had started to call for the cops
When they heard funny noises on their rooftops.
And second-hand smoke from his pipe left workers quite frightened.
And his fur trimmed red suit was deemed "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorised use of his nose.
He went on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.
So, half of the reindeer took off with his wife,
Who knew she'd had quite enough of this strife.
She joined a self-help group, and became quite a whiz,
Demanding from now on to be called just "Ms."
And as for the gifts, why, he'd never had a notion
That making a choice could cause this commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim, Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamoured or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls, or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacifistic.
No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, dishevelled, perplexed;
He just couldn't figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, he tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.
So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth,
May you and your loved ones, enjoy peace on Earth.
Image Credit: Santa Joy Boy - monkeyworks.files.wordpress.com - 2009 12
Script Credit: Unknown