Euphemisms

28 Nov

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “euphemism” as, “A figure [of speech] by which a less distasteful word or expression is substituted for one more exactly descriptive of what is intended”. What a surprise, they join the long list of things that raise my blood pressure.

The Economist Style Guide, with which I invariably agree, says that they should be avoided where possible. While it agrees that good writers should avoid giving offence, it also says, “a good writer owes something to plain speech, the English language and the truth, as well as to good manners”.

Euphemisms, which are invariably longer than the original meaning, take up valuable space; they are not only less precise, they are also less concise.

There are three  that I find particularly annoying, probably because they are used far too often:
“passed on” (or, even worse, “gone to a better place”) instead of “died” – unless you are truly religious you can’t believe anyone has passed on to anywhere;
“in harm’s way” instead of “in danger” – pointless;
“loved ones” instead of “family” or “people you love” – OK, that’s longer, but it’s less mawkish.

Please, people, let’s say what we mean!

Today’s picture

A shop front in Tunisia, taken about five years ago, but probably no longer selling Kodak film, which is now practically unobtainable.Image

Advertisement

One Response to “Euphemisms”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Euphemisms « alswordsnpictures - November 28, 2012

    […] Euphemisms. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: