Euphemisms


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Euphemisms

 

blankety-blank See PROFANITY.

dickens See PROFANITY.

love-brat A child born out of wedlock; a bastard. This obsolete expression, the equivalent of the modern love-child, appeared in the 17th-century Old Chapbook:

Now by this four we plainly see Four love brats will be laid to thee: And she that draws the same shall wed

Two rich husbands, and both well bred.

pillars to the temple British slang for a woman’s legs. The sexual allusion in this coy euphemism is obvious.

pooper-scooper A shovellike device used to daintily pick up the feces of dogs or other pets. The expression, as well as the devices, has become especially popular since the mid-1970s when New York and other cities enacted laws requiring dog owners to clean up after their pets.

Sam Hill Hell. The person to whom this euphemistic expletive apparently refers is unknown. The Random House Dictionary suggests that Sam may be derived from salmon, a variation of Sal(o)mon ‘an oath,’ and that Hill may be a variation of hell The term usually appears in expressions like “What the …,” “Who the …,”etc.

He wondered who the Sam Hill the “senator” was. (Salt Lake [City, Utah] Tribune, December 18, 1948)

see a man about a dog To go to the men’s room; to go out for a drink; to visit a prostitute. This slang Americanism appears to have been coined in the mid-to-late 19th century as a Victorian euphemism to avoid direct reference to bodily functions or frowned-upon activities.

Although they were all out, at the bases, and the rest of our nine having gone to see a man, there was nobody to take the bat. (The Ball Players’ Chronicle, September 12, 1867)

The appearance in print of the inverted see a dog about a man and the variant see a man about a horse attests to the nonsensicalness of the original expression.

I’m in a rush—gotta see a dog about a man. (Chicago Tribune, March 21, 1948)

See a man about a dog is also used as an evasive response to almost any inconvenient or embarrassing question.

son of a gun An evil person, a miscreant; a rogue, scamp, or scalawag; any person; a disagreeable or odious task or other matter; as an interjection, an exclamation of surprise, disappointment, or dismay. It has been suggested that son of a gun originated during the 18th century when nonmilitary women were permitted to live aboard naval ships. When one of these women gave birth to a child without knowing which of the sailors had fathered it, the paternity was logged as “gun” and the child as “son of a gun,” alluding either to the sexual implications of gun or to the mid-ship gun which was located near the makeshift maternity room. In any case, the expression is a popular and somewhat less offensive alternative to son of a bitch, which also intimates that a person is of uncertain paternity and that his mother was less than virtuous. Over the years, however, both expressions have lost much of their derogatory connotations and are often applied in jocular and familiar contexts.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
{boss = Cooper was annoyed by American euphemisms, such as using the Dutch word "boss" in place of "master"--a custom he blamed largely on New England "Yankees"}
Philip laughed savagely as he thought of her gentility and the refinement with which she ate her food; she could not bear a coarse word, so far as her limited vocabulary reached she had a passion for euphemisms, and she scented indecency everywhere; she never spoke of trousers but referred to them as nether garments; she thought it slightly indelicate to blow her nose and did it in a deprecating way.
In verse 19 we are told what Nietzsche called Redemption--that is to say, the ability to say of all that is past: "Thus would I have it." The in ability to say this, and the resentment which results therefrom, he regards as the source of all our feelings of revenge, and all our desires to punish--punishment meaning to him merely a euphemism for the word revenge, invented in order to still our consciences.
Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity,--I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other simplicity which is only an euphemism for folly?
Seeing him thus quadrupedal in the grass, the priest raised his eyebrows rather sadly; and for the first time guessed that "fancies things" might be an euphemism.
It was something of a euphemism to call him a well-known man about town.
Rather than speak in euphemisms I have been frank and critical, but I want to preface my remarks here by honoring Jones's many contributions to Toomer studies, including his edition of The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer (with Margot Toomer Latimer) and of Critical Essays on Jean Toomer.
We use euphemisms to create a favorable image and dysphemisms when do the opposite.
Using high-minded euphemisms to cover their tracks, they defined political equality as requiring "safe legislative seats corresponding to a minority's share of the population.' To compensate for low minority turnout and registration, the department has defined a "safe seat as one with 65 percent minority voters and with no strong white candidate.' To secure these seats against competition from white candidates, the department has decided that at-large and multimember districting systems must go the way of hoop skirts.
To state officials around the country, they are "facilities." Why officialdom indulges so doggedly in such euphemisms has always been a mystery to me.
We see the power of euphemisms to pervert the whole meaning of human sexuality.
We prefer to use euphemisms to cover ugly realities.