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Euphorbia! ħumanUser talk:Human 16:28, 8 November 2008 (EST)

Hey, why did you delete my, er, "version" instead of simply overwriting it? Meanie... ħumanUser talk:Human 19:59, 8 November 2008 (EST)

Create more negativephisms!

Err ... no ...[edit]

Excised as myth: (In fact, some Victorians were so uptight that they would dress their legged furniture -- pianos, lowboys, etc. -- with lace pant legs so that there wouldn't be even the slightest hint of impropriety in their households.)

The piano leg story seems to have originated in Captain Frederick Marryat's 1839 book, Diary in America, as a satirical comment on American prissiness. WP 09:28, 3 July 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast
But note: Americans eschew "titbit" in favour of "tidbit" - weirdos. 09:30, 3 July 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast


I think this should be removed. The two meanings of pinhead (a person with microcephaly, or a person who is perceived to have a small brain) are both fairly literal, neither is really a euphemism, & they're almost certainly unrelated to each other. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 10:50, 3 July 2010 (UTC)


A lot of the new content added by the BON has nothing or virtually nothing to do with euphemisms, so I've cut most of it. A euphemism is a word or phrase used in place of another word or phrase for reasons of tact, not a way of way of writing a story or shooting a movie so that things are implied which aren't seen on the screen. & Not the use of gender-articles in European languages . WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 11:15, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

Antonym of euphemism[edit]

Is there one - and are there any examples? (talk) 16:41, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Dysphemism -- a derogatory word to describe someone that one despises for political reasons. Rush Limbaugh gave us the infamous "feminazi" for "feminist". "Baby-killer" is a favorite for use against abortion providers. Pbrower2a (talk) 20:52, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

Idiot imbecile etc[edit]

This sentence: "Historically, the first three referred to people with IQ's in the range of 0-20, 20-49, 50-69 respectively" strikes me as wrong. I don't study etymology, myself, but the Wikipedia article on "idiot" claims that the word "idiot" can be traced back to Middle English. I think that, at the very least, the "historically" in this sentence is inaccurate without a more thorough examination of the word's etymology. I would change it to say, "In psychology, the first..." but, as I said, etymology is not really my thing, and I wasn't sure if there might be some kind of objection to the change.Dowdicus (talk) 14:23, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Ooh, upon further reading, it would seem my objection to the mischaracterization of the word's history would invalidate much of the gripe about political correctness which follows. Perhaps some intrepid anti-pc editor can find another example of the euphemism treadmill that isn't based on bad etymology? -Dowdicus (talk) 14:29, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Some euphemisms[edit]

... are partially 'creative linguistics and humour', journalese, 'jargon used as barriers' etc.

Where would 'Ugandan negotiations' fit in - as some might consider it 'slightly un-PC.' (talk) 11:19, 27 April 2017 (UTC)


How should the statements along the lines of 'This text/program contains words and usages which were acceptable at the time but are no longer considered so' be classified? Anna Livia (talk) 13:58, 25 January 2021 (UTC)

I don’t know if there’s a specific word for that, but the phrase “fair for its day” comes to mind Allgoodusernamesweretaken (talk) 23:17, 18 February 2022 (UTC)
@Anna Livia The process by which said statements become unacceptable is that of euphemism. Depending on how taboo a particular word or phrase is, a euphemism may be employed in its place. For example, the manner in which the word ‘homely’ is used in place of the word ‘ugly’.
However, I believe the term for which you’re looking is anachronism. The statements you wish to classify could be called “euphemistic anachronisms”: the meaning of said statements has altered over time due to the process of euphemism (in this case in an unfavourable direction); and these statements are isolated to a particular place in time hence they are anachronisms.—LeucippusSalva veritate 00:55, 19 February 2022 (UTC)
Referring to 'linguistic/cultural drift'/changing cultural perspectives (eg the Joseph Conrad book and the Agatha Christie book 'Ten little '), being somewhat distinct from the 'euphemism treadmill'.
'Anachronism would be the wrong word, as 'the terms in question' were not inserted by later writers. Anna Livia (talk) 11:03, 19 February 2022 (UTC)
If they aren’t anachronisms then they certainly still are a kind of euphemism.
As an aside I first thought that the statements in question might be idiotisms—let me explain: The word ‘idiotism’ refers to a linguistic singularity: a word or phrase which cannot be understood based on the way its words are used in other parts of language. For example, in French the sentence ‘le bel âge’ means youth, whereas the incredibly similar ‘un bel âge’ means old age—the broad similarities between these two French expressions do not indicate that they have similar meanings.
I still believe that the statements you wish to classify are a species of euphemism. A euphemism is used in order to remove the effects of a particular word or phrase that is considered inappropriate or taboo; typically to reduce the harshness of what that word, or phrase, refers to. However there is another form of euphemism which is used to remove the effects of words or phrases that are objectionable not because of the things they refer to, but instead, due to the objectionable attitudes and intentions of the speaker using that word or phrase. A notable—albeit ironic—case in point (of whom I was made aware from a book, as a I can neither speak Mandarin nor Cantonese) is the old use of the racial word ‘Chinaman’, which understandably came to be viewed as derogatory; the irony stems from the fact that this word—‘Chinaman’—departs from the usual grammar of the English language precisely in order to conform to the way in which the Chinese refer to themselves: djung-kuo run, which literally translates as ‘China man’. LeucippusSalva veritate 17:02, 19 February 2022 (UTC)
The point is - the original word(s) are retained but they are now viewed as being unacceptable/problematic, and to replace the word(s) would also be problematic (or their 'negative impact' was intended at the time and is now seen as worse) - there has been a change of perspective.
There will also be some cases where 'the negative slant to a word or phrase' has faded over time. (The nearest I can think of offhand - Hamlet's 'Get thee to a nunnery' which had a different meaning in Shakespeare's time.) Anna Livia (talk) 17:22, 19 February 2022 (UTC)
Anna, those changes of what words mean, what they refer to, or changes of attitude—are all caused by the process of euphemism and are themselves euphemisms. For example the word ‘idiot’ originates from Ancient Greek, where it was an inoffensive word which meant a person who was ‘ordinary’ or ‘common’; it was the process of euphemism that transformed the neutral Ancient Greek word ‘idiot’ into the pejorative word we use today. Euphemism can also transform words that have neutral connotations into honourifics e.g. the honourific word ‘lord’ comes from the old English hlaf-weard ‘loaf guard’, the man who was in charge of the bread. Euphemisms are originally used to alter the connotations of a word—be they pejorative, or honourific—, by substituting in a more neutral term, but over the course of time they acquire some, or all, of the traits of the original word; which render a neutral words as pejorative, derogative, or even honourific.
Hamlet’s “get thee to a nunnery” could be a contender for that, but only on account of it being expressed in language that would be considered obsolete or archaic by most of the population. On the other hand, Hamlet’s use of the double entendre “nunnery” is misogynistic: he is telling Ophelia to isolate herself from men by going to a convent, and at the same time, it is implied that he is using the Elizabethan colloquialism “nunnery” as an innuendo for a Brothel. LeucippusSalva veritate 18:59, 19 February 2022 (UTC)
There will also be 'one neutral word replaced by another neutral word' - tawny/orange (colour), Bombay/Mumbai etc: is there a term for this?
Many views expressed in the past are the subject of indifference in the present: but there are certain 'texts, visual presentations and other material' where it is felt necessary for the modern presenter (author quoting the text, TV channel presenting a program of the past etc) to distance themselves from the views expressed. (The reverse of an author quoting a passage and saying 'emphasis added'.) Anna Livia (talk) 20:35, 21 February 2022 (UTC)

The photo from the “Rifleman” magazine is not an example of a euphemism[edit]

That photo and the caption seems more innuendo than euphemism. For any adult the photo is, or can be clearly interpreted as, using a seemingly innocent context and seemingly innocent objects to imply something lewd and subversive. An innuendo occurs when someone uses a word, or a phrase, in a way that implies something different to how those words are typically understood or used; an innuendo can only be used effectively if both parties understand the intended meaning. A euphemism is used in contexts where the words are being intended in their usual way such that in order to address a difficult topic a new word needs to be substituted for an otherwise unsuitable one; a euphemism is designed to obscure the actual intentions of the speaker—rather than using words in a way both parties are familiar with—, and to replace the actual connotations of their words e.g. the use of the word ‘toilet’ in place of ‘shit-house’, or ‘making love’ in place of ‘fucking’, etc. LeucippusSalva veritate 02:04, 19 February 2022 (UTC)