Euphemism – Concept, functions, examples and dysphemism

We explain what a euphemism is, its functions and examples in sentences. Also, differences between euphemism and dysphemism.

A euphemism allows you to avoid offensive or overly direct terms.

What is a euphemism?

Euphemisms are those terms or grammatical constructions that we use instead of others, to avoid pronouncing taboo words, profanity or use harsh, crude, offensive or overly direct terms.

It is a way of qualifying language for different purposes and purposes. Some euphemisms are used as a form of respect, to “soften” what has been said, or to prevent a third party from understanding the message (that is, hiding it with other terms), or even for comic, playful purposes.

Its use is very frequent in politically correct language, that is, as a strategy of referring to people in the least offensive and compromising way possible. However, originally, euphemisms were words used to refer to something sacred, religious, that was not to be pronounced like that no more.

The word comes from the Greek, from the voices eu, “good and phemi, “Speak”, since in the religion of Ancient Greece there were deities whose names it was better not to mention, especially those linked to the world of the dead: Hades and Persephone, or the goddess of revenge, Ramnusia (“Nemesis” for the Romans). Thus, euphemisms (“good words”) were used to refer to them without tempting bad luck.

Thus, it is common for euphemisms to be used in ordinary language to refer to compromising situations, death, sex or to everything we prefer to refer to indirectly, tangentially, sometimes even metaphorically.

Examples of euphemisms

Some examples of euphemism are as follows:

  • To refer to the act of dying, euphemisms are used such as: “rest”, “give up one’s life”, “physically disappear”, “pass to a better life”, and so on. “The well-known writer gave his life last Thursday April 4 “.
  • To refer to old age, euphemisms are used such as: “golden age“, “third age” or “older adult”, etc. For example: “Our company will provide you with what you need in your Golden age”.
  • To refer to sexual relations, euphemisms are used such as: “making love”, “having relations”, “shaking bodies”, “merging into one”, and so on. For example: “They were making love when the storm came ”.
  • To refer to the penis, euphemisms are used such as: “virile member” (or sometimes just “member”), “male sexual organ”, and even “masculinity” or “manhood”. For example: “The model’s clothes fell and his manhood it was visible to all ”.
  • To refer to the State’s permission for companies to freely and openly dismiss the workers they want, euphemisms such as: “labor flexibility”, “labor market liberation”, etc. are often used. For example: “With the new labor flexibility, companies will have more resources available ”.

Euphemism and dysphemism

Euphemisms are the complete opposite of dysphemisms: if the euphemism is a good and correct word to refer to a compromised or taboo referent, dysphemism is a deliberately incorrect, derogatory, or insulting word that is used in place of a more neutral one, whether for humorous, satirical purposes, or simply to lower the formality of spoken language.

Examples of dysphemisms are:

  • To allude to the act of dying, dysphemisms are used such as: “stretch the leg”, “palmarla”, “espichar”, “cross the moor”, and so on. For example: “Miguelito finally kicked the bucket, Buddy”.
  • To refer to sex, dysphemisms are used such as: “fuck”, “fuck”, “fuck”, “squeeze”, “make delicious”, and so on. For example: “Those two were seen squeezing in a hotel ”.
  • To refer to certain trades, specific dysphemisms are used, such as: “matasanos” (doctor), “toothbrush” (dentist), “lawyer” (criminal lawyer), and so on. For example: “I leave you, I have an appointment with him quack”.