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Euphemism is a literary term that represents a word or a phrase that is said to avoid saying something that might sound offensive. It is a polite way of saying something that would normally sound harsh or unpleasant (i.e. instead of old people we say senior citizens). Using euphemism we can avoid making blunt or politically incorrect statements.
Euphemism is derived from the Greek phrase euphēmismos meaning “to sound good.”
Euphemism is widely used in various situations in everyday language. It can be used in both formal and informal conversations. It is used at work, among friends, in news articles etc. It sometimes has entertaining role (when someone wants to sound amusing and entertain its listeners) and sometimes it helps calming the situation, especially during disagreements and fights (we didn’t have a fight, we just had creative differences). It is sometimes called doublespeak. A euphemism is a word or phrase which pretends to communicate but in fact it doesn’t. It makes the bad things seem good, the negative situations look like positive, the unnatural can look natural, the unpleasant can become attractive, or at least tolerable. It is also a language which avoids or sometimes shifts responsibility. Also, political correctness is filled with euphemistic phrases.
Types of Euphemism
There are several types of euphemism. We can make distinction between them according to their aim.
To Soften an Expression
This type of euphemism is used to soften an expression that would sound harsh. In other word, its role is to say the very same thing, but in a more polite manner, like in examples below:
- Preowned instead of used
- Deceased instead of dead
- Euthanize instead of kill
- Put to sleep instead of kill
- Correctional institution instead of prison
To be Polite
These words or phrases are put instead of some others because you don’t want to say them in particular company like:
- Restroom instead of toilet
- Powder your nose instead of use restroom
- Full-figured instead of overweight
- Mentally challenged instead of retarded
- Visually challenged instead of blind
To be Impolite
Euphemism is sometimes used even to intentionally offend someone, to mock at someone’s inability or just to make fun of someone:
Bite the dust instead of die
The verb to die probably has more euphemistic words and expressions on its behalf than any other word. All the expressions below are euphemistic forms sometimes used instead of this verb:
a race well run, definitely done dancing, in a better place, feeling no pain , go west, departed, finished, at room temperature, get a one-way ticket, out of his/her misery, cross the bar, asleep, join the majority, bite the dust ,kick the bucket, living-impaired, resting in peace, check out, pass away, no longer with us, meet his/her maker, wearing a toe tag, yield up the ghost, kick the oxygen habit, pushing up the daisies, six feet under, with the angels, terminated, call home, final curtain call etc.
The Importance of Euphemism
Euphemism isn’t only a way of avoiding the truth. Euphemism is widely used in various situations where lack of it would make great discomfort, or even make the reality even worse.
It is difficult to explain a young child that his or her pet has died. The kids in young age are oblivious of death and their mind cannot yet process that something that was alive now suddenly isn’t. It is even harder when it comes to family members.
In politics, the use of euphemistic expressions is a must, since it helps calming down tense situations, especially during peace negotiations. If you say that one side has killed 10 000 soldiers of the opposing side it is likely to make the situation tense and won’t help the negotiations, but if you say that one side has 10 000 casualties it is somewhat less probable to create discomfort or rage.
It shouldn’t be forgotten to mention its use in literature, without which we wouldn’t have this wide range of euphemistic expressions. Whether you want to use it for making a rhyme in poetry, or you simply want to make your novel look richer and more entertaining, euphemistic expressions are the tool that you need.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use euphemism worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what euphemism is and how it can be used. You can use these euphemism worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Link will appear as Euphemism Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 7, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.