User:Robert A West/List of Euphemisms

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Big Old fat hippos

General euphemisms[edit]

  • Death
    • Passed away
    • Curtains
    • Kick the bucket
    • Buy the farm
    • Pop one's clogs
    • Gone to heaven
    • Take a dirt nap
    • A visit from the stork

Euphemisms for the profane[edit]

Religious euphemisms[edit]

  • God/God damn (See also tetragrammaton for the taboo of the Hebrew name of God.):
    • goldarn
    • golly
    • gosh
    • gadzooks, supposedly "God's hooks", the nails by which Jesus hung on the cross
    • gawd
    • goldang
    • Godfrey Daniel, used by W.C. Fields
    • doggone
    • gosh darn
    • dad gum
    • gad
    • Hughie
    • dog, an anagram of God used mostly in the phrase "Oh my dog!" or "Oh My Feicking Dog". Also known in the internet world as OMD or OMFD.
  • Hell:
    • H-E-double-toothpicks (or -hockey-sticks)
    • heck
    • Sam Hill ("What in Sam Hill is going on here?")
    • The other place (as opposed to Heaven, not used as an oath)
    • tarnation
    • the hot place (now archaic)
    • Infernal Regions (now archaic)
    • Perdition (now archaic)

Euphemisms for Jesus also include the Lord, the Good Shepherd, the Redeemer and the Saviour.

  • The Devil:
    • Charlie Winston
    • the dark one
    • the deuce ("The deuce you say!"; now archaic)
    • the dickens, in use before the era of Charles Dickens
    • Old Nick (based off of Nick Saban, and his devilry)
    • Old Scratch or Old Scrotch

Excretory euphemisms[edit]

  • urine/urinate:
    • gypsies' kiss
    • number one
    • pee
    • piddle
    • tinkle
    • wee-wee
    • whiz
    • take a leak
    • relieve oneself
    • drain the lizard
    • drain the main vein
    • see a man about a dog
    • tap a kidney
    • take a whiz
    • spend a penny (dated)
  • feces/defecation:
    • number twos
    • drop a deuce
    • bowel movement or BM
    • droppings
    • dung
    • poo (and variations such as poop and poopie)
    • doo (typically in "dog doo", but see below)
    • night soil (archaic, but still used for composted human feces)
    • sirreverence (archaic, short for save reverence)
    • stool
    • drop off a load (crude)
    • take a dump (crude)
    • take a doog
    • pinch a loaf (crude)
    • drop the Browns off at the Super Bowl (crude)
    • drop the kids off at the pool
    • pump a duke
    • drop trout
    • go fishing for brown trout
    • give birth to a small brown child
    • twosies
    • Elijah T. Bohle
    • Anal Hot Chocolate


  • toilets / bathrooms (both of which are themselves euphemisms)
    • men's room / women's room
    • the little boys' room / the little girls' room
    • restroom
    • the porcelain god, often in connection with vomiting
    • the throne
    • the head, sailors' terminology. The "facility" was placed on the bow or head of the ship in case of falls while at sea
    • the john (crude)
    • the can (crude)
    • the potty
    • outhouse
    • backhouse
    • dunny
    • donnicker
    • the big white telephone or the white courtesy phone, "talking to John on..."
    • W.C., short for water closet
    • the necessarium (relatively rare)
    • the facilities or, when camping, "the facili-trees"
    • where you keep your clothes (be aware that asking where someone keeps their clothes may result in the answer "the wardrobe")
    • "going to see a man about a dog"
    • "here it is"(or "here 'tis")
    • "the cadillac"(a heated/cooled bathroom in a military deployed location)
    • the loo

Sexual euphemisms[edit]

  • The term adult for "sexually oriented" or "pornographic". For example:
    • adult film: pornographic movie
    • adult actress or adult actor: porn star
    • adult film industry: pornography industry
    • adult bookstore: pornography store
    • adult novelties: sex toys
    • erotic dancer or exotic dancer: stripper
    • sex worker: porn star, stripper, or prostitute
  • The term eve teasing is used for sexual harassment in Indian English
  • breasts:
    • boobies
    • bosom
    • chest
    • cupcakes
    • bust
    • tits
    • titties
    • gazongas
    • ta-tas
    • jumblies
    • fun bags (preferred euphemism of students in Hamilton, Ontario)
    • cannons
    • melons
    • jugs
    • hooters
    • peaks
    • knockers
    • honkers
    • puppies
    • boobs
    • breasticles
    • sweater puppets
    • chesticles
    • headlights
    • rack
    • mountains
    • balloons
    • twins
    • tig bitties
    • mammaries
    • tatties
    • tats
    • bazookas
    • guns
    • cans
    • can-cans
    • yum-yums
    • mammaries
    • ka-BLAM-Os
    • mammets (archaic)
    • white meat (Victorian) circumlocution for chicken breast, to avoid association with human breasts)
    • milkshakes(Used in Dodgeball the movie)
  • Having sex:
    • feick
    • fack
    • mac
    • fudge
    • shag
    • lay with or lie with. For example, "Harry lay with Sally"
    • knockin' boots
    • know: Biblical Adam knew Eve; generally phrased "know him/her... in the Biblical sense"
    • sleep with
    • makin' whoopie
    • hook up
    • make love
    • carnal knowledge
    • act of union
    • horizontal mambo
    • makin' bacon
    • frick'n
    • makin' babies
    • wild monkey dance
    • fuck
    • smash
  • Ejaculation:
    • splooge
    • cum
    • bust a nut
    • skeet
    • jizz
    • load
    • squirt

Doublespeak[edit]

Corporate[edit]

  • layoff, downsize, rightsize, headcount adjustment, RIF (reduction in force), realignment: mass firing of employees, usually due to business restructuring or economic conditions
    • also counseled out, made redundant, let go, dismissed, terminated, services are no longer required, et cetera, for firing in general
    • The Dilbert series satirizes this in one strip in which an employee is unable to figure out that he has been laid off.
  • job flexibility: lack of job security (where job security means an actual or implied promise of continued employment)
  • outsource: firing local employees to hire cheaper labor elsewhere.
  • replacement workers: scabs or strikebreakers in labor disputes
  • reliability enhancement: fix for a software bug.
  • escort from premises: kicked out/thrown out of building

Espionage[edit]

  • classified: in general usage, "secret"; in governmental usage, information which has been evaluated and possibly assigned a security clearance.
    • Since at least World War II, United States military and governmental information has been distinguished into classes corresponding to increasing levels of security clearances required by those people allowed access to it, and has come to be called classified information (as in "classified for a particular clearance").
  • unclassified: in general usage, "not secret"; in governmental usage, information which has not been assigned a security clearance.
    Information which has not been assigned a classification; most public information falls into this category, which is the default state of information. Stands in contrast to information which has been evaluated and classified as "Public".
  • declassified: in general and governmental usage, formerly but not presently secret
    Information which had as some point been classified as secret, but has since been released to the public.
  • intelligence: information and sources of information (spies and spying)
  • human intelligence: information from spies and interrogated prisoners, and other information from human sources (such as weather reports or economic studies) used by a secret or military agency
  • asset: a secret agency's recruited, clandestine human source in a foreign country (foreign spies)
  • wet work: assassination
  • physical persuasion or physical pressure: torture

Military[edit]

  • defense: war, as in the United States Department of Defense, formed by the merging of the Department of War and Department of the Navy
  • neutralize or service: to kill or disable a target
  • friendly fire: being inadvertently or mistakenly attacked by your allies
  • collateral damage: unintentional killing or damage; deaths and injuries inflicetd on non-combatants.
  • area denial munitions: landmines
  • bombs which kill civilians are, according to The Pentagon, "incontinent ordnance" (Lutz)
  • preemptive war: to invade a foreign country so that the invading nation would not be invaded itself or be subjected to an enemy strike early on
  • pre-hostility: peace
  • secure an area (or mop up): kill or capture remaining enemy soldiers
  • aerial ordnance: the use of bombs or missiles by air
  • asymmetric warfare: A conflict in which the combatants are greatly mismatched, and thus the weaker side employs guerilla tactics, or uses methods that violate the Geneva Conventions pertaining to the use of weaponry and non-combatants.
  • casualty: death, injury or incapacitation that results in the effective loss of a combantant.
  • post-traumatic stress disorder, a euphemism for operational exhaustion, euphemism for battle fatigue, a euphemism for shell shock. Used as an example of dehumanization of language (particularly by the American comedian George Carlin). The terms were used in the Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II and World War I respectively. Note, however, that Post-traumatic stress disorder is also triggered by other traumatic events, such as rape.
  • engage: to fight the enemy head on
  • engagement: a small battle, a brief firefight
  • projectile: anything that can be fired at the enemy, such as bullets, artillery shells, rockets
  • terrorist: An individual who uses methods that violate the Geneva Conventions pertaining to the use of weaponry and non-combatants for the purpose of influencing policy.
  • troublemaker, treasonist, criminal, terrorist, unpatriotic: often names for rebel, revolutionary, or folk heroes, especially by oppressive governments
  • extreme prejudice: kill without mercy
  • regime change: dethroning the current government/dynasty
  • surgical strike: bombing attack by plane, or missile using precision/guided munitions.
  • psychological deterrent: the largest (non nuclear) weapons, such as the Hellfire missile, Daisy Cutter, and M.O.B. - The existence of a large bomb prevents the enemy from attacking, in theory.
  • tough love, tough decision, Good vs. Evil, ethics: key words used to justify war through moral reasoning

Political[edit]

  • final solution (Endlösung): The Holocaust
    • Doublespeak was very common in the Third Reich. Goebbels' Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Ministry of the Reich for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) coined thousands of new German words. Other examples include: Concentration Camp (labor/death camp), Heim ins Reich (occupation of Austria), the meanings of Volk (people) and Rasse (race).
  • ethnic cleansing: genocide
  • freedom fighter: armed political rebel (positive term); the same person might be described as a "guerilla" if we are neutral towards him, or a "terrorist" if we disagree with him
  • taxpayer: citizen
    • The word "taxpayer" means an individual or business that pays taxes, and when used in a discussion of government revenues is not doublespeak. However, using the term interchangeably with "citizen" does two things. One, it disguises the fact that political policies that apply to individual taxpayers also apply to corporate taxpayers. Two, it appeals to middle-class citizens by excluding welfare beneficiaries and others perceived to pay little or no tax. More subtly, use of this term dilutes the idea of citizenship itself, and implies that there is nothing more to society than mere economic rationalism, as per Margaret Thatcher's famous pronouncement. This usage has become popular in the names of certain conservative groups, for example, Taxpayers for Common Sense and National Taxpayers' Union in the United States, the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation and the lobby group Association of Consumers and Taxpayers in New Zealand.
  • internment facility: prison
  • protective custody: temporary imprisonment without due process of law
  • intervention: military action to prevent an undesired outcome
  • executive action: assassination
  • campaign contribution : political donation, fund raiser
  • budget surplus: profit
  • advertising, self promotion: propaganda
  • special interests, foreign interests: representatives and lobbyists of businesses dealing in oil, diamonds, gold, and other profitable resources abroad
  • disturbing the peace, noise pollution, slander, defamation, treason, inciting a riot, public speaking without a permit
  • public donation, shared sacrifice: taxes
  • progressive: leftist
  • rightwing extremist: Conservative especially one who appears hawkish on security issues.
  • developing country : 'third-world' or former colonial territory.
  • regime change: removal by force of an existing, presumably hostile, government.
  • pro-choice: wanting abortion to be legal (i.e., pro-abortion)
  • pro-life: wanting abortion to be illegal (i.e., anti-abortion)

Law enforcement[edit]

Police and court officers use much jargon and many terms of art. The vast majority of these terms are not properly called euphemisms. Some terms may actually be dysphemisms. There are well documented instances in which police officers have conducted criminal activities under cover of legitimate law enforcement: nevertheless, an unlawful arrest remains an arrest, an improper search remains a search, and so on.

When illegal activity is routine, it often acquires its own specific jargon. For example, the term "black-bag operations" was used by the FBI to describe illegal break-ins in the 1970's. Mostly, such terms are an informal code, similar to thieves' cant, intended to be understood only by fellow-conspirators. The term euphemism is generally inapt with respect to such cryptolects. A few terms are sufficiently widespread to qualify, however.

The following terms are reasonably widespread genuine euphemisms in the law enforcement vocabulary, together with a plain-language alternative.

  • aggressive enforcement: increased police presence, often resulting in arrests for petty crimes as a 'show of force'
  • fines on the spot: bribes taken during traffic stops.
  • gain access: jimmy a window, pick a lock, break down a door.
In some cases, the means of entry are legitimately obscured in order to protect an informant or a method. Such usage is not properly termed euphemistic.
  • pacify: subdue by force.
In some instances, such as the "Dirty 39th" Precinct in Philadelphia, this has been the term of choice for excessive and unjustified force.
  • person of interest: suspect, material witness.

Social[edit]

  • job seekers: the unemployed
  • asylum seekers: refugees
  • suspected illegal entrants or illegals: used when asylum seekers is considered to grant too much legitimacy
  • undocumented aliens: (US) illegal aliens
  • African-American: American-born black man/woman (vs. immigrant from Africa)
  • 'person of color: black man/woman (cf. pre-1960s "colored")
  • full-figured: obese
  • unsavory character: criminal (or, more specifically suspected criminal)
  • involuntary conversion: plane crash -- a vanishingly rare usage, and included only for curiosity's sake.
  • differently abled: disabled (or: crippled)
  • Health Care Center: Hospital
  • sales advisor: shop assistant
  • senior citizen: elderly person
  • learning difference: learning disability (in some cases, stupid)
  • slow: below-average learning ability, possible mental retardation.
  • motivationally challenged: lazy
  • issues: problems or malfunction (especially in the IT field)
  • visually impaired: blind or nearly so
  • comfort women: prostitute, later specifically women forced into sexual slavery during World War II (see also Joy Division (World War II))
  • Customer Service Representative: bank tellers, non-technical telephone support.
  • illegal alien: illegal immigrants
  • urban: African American. For example, "urban contemporary music" refers to rap, hip-hop and other forms of popular music stereotypically associated with African Americans.
  • counter culture: lifestyles different from, and often openly hostile towards, the mainstream, communes, hippies, flower children

Sports[edit]

  • cost certainty: salary-cap; often used by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during his negotiations with the NHL Players Association during the 2004-05 NHL lockout; Bettman wants to impose a salary cap on NHL teams
  • incident: a fight, or some other violent action such as a slash in hockey that results in suspension and/or fine, or a fight between a player and a fan
  • upper/lower body injury: often used in hockey, this term implies that a player is injured but the specifics of the injury are not disclosed; especially used during playoff time so that opposing teams will not be able to find out the extent of the players' injuries; for example, a leg injury can be classified as a "lower body injury", a shoulder injury can be classified as an "upper body injury"
  • scratch: used in hockey, implies that a player is taken off the roster for a game usually due to injury (scratching a player off the roster list); a healthy scratch means that the player (usually a struggling player) is taken off the roster due to the coach's decision, not because of an injury
  • contraction: a plan to reduce (fold) a number of teams in a league in the hopes of increasing its competitiveness and reducing the financial losses of the league; Major League Baseball once considered folding two teams, widely thought to be the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos
  • objects: things thrown onto the field resulting in the disruption of a game/match, such as bottles, cups, flares
  • seeking a trade: a sign that a player badly wants out of his current team for various reasons
  • advisor: a position at the executive level whose job is to advise the General Manager and/or President of a team; hiring an advisor can imply that there is a degree of incompetence at management level
  • 'Israel Argullan: cakin since 1997

===Other===

  • terminated: Mafia-style killings. Also used instead of "fired" in workplace settings.
  • spontaneous energetic disassembly for "explosion" (reportedly used by a director of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant)
  • computer-implemented invention: computer programming method in the context of patent law, because software patents are a controversial topic
  • deactivating satellite receivers: doing malicious damage to receiver firmware in response to widespread pirate decryption problems (this euphemism was used in Globe and Mail coverage of Bell ExpressVu - both just happen to be owned by the same company)