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Euphemisms Practice Exercises

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Updated on Sep 21, 2011

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Euphemisms Study Guide

Euphemisms Practice Exercises

Practice Exercise

Rewrite the following sentences, replacing the italicized euphemism with more direct language. Briefly explain why you think the euphemism was used.

1. Because of budget cuts at the company, my mother's job was terminated without prejudice.
___________________ _______________________________________________________
2. Sadly, the neighborhood where we used to live is now said to be in transition.
___________________________________________________________________________
3. To her great embarrassment, Eileen's mother called her pleasingly plump.
___________________________________________________________________________
4. Moe's Pre-Owned Vehicles was the newest business in town, and apparently it was extremely successful in these hard financial times.
___________________________________________________________________________
5. Every Tuesday night we put out our recycling bins for the sanitation engineers to pick up on Wednesday mornings.
____________________________________________________________________________
6. The general explained that many civilian casualties resulted during the platoon's efforts to neutralize the target.
____________________________________________________________________________
7. Mary Lou was expecting again, which pleased her son and her parents enormously.
____________________________________________________________________________
8. During this summer's heat wave we suddenly had no electricity in my apartment, and the whole city experienced a disruption in service.
____________________________________________________________________________
9. According to his defense attorney, the accused robber's statement in court was not completely true.
10. The town instituted the use of school buses to enforce its new commitment to a policy of diversity.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Answers

1. Because of budget cuts at the company, my mother's job was eliminated. The writer wanted to make it clear that the mother was not to blame for the loss of her job.
2. Sadly, the neighborhood where we used to live is now said to be a less desirable place to live.
The writer is trying not to say that different kinds of people are moving in, probably causing property values to decline.
3. To her great embarrassment, Eileen's mother called her slightly overweight.
Probably Eileen's mother thinks her daughter is more than slightly overweight and actually fat, but is trying to soften the blow by calling her pleasingly plump; the mother is hardly pleased and is trying to cover her displeasure with a bit of humor.
4. Moe's Used Cars was the newest business in town, and apparently it was extremely successful in these hard financial times.
Calling used cars pre-owned is an attempt to make them sound more desirable, since used cars are generally thought to be of little value.
5. Every Tuesday night we put out our recycling bins for the garbage men to pick up on Wednesday mornings.
Calling garbage men sanitation engineers is an attempt to make this diffi-cult and distasteful job sound more respectable and somehow scientific and skilled.
6. The general explained that many civilian casualties resulted during the platoon's efforts to defeat the enemy forces.
Neutralizing the target is a dramatically deceptive and euphemistic way to describe the cold hard facts of war. Presumably it is an attempt by military spokespersons to protect the feelings of civilians.
7. Mary Lou was pregnant again, which pleased her son and her parents enormously.
Strangely, the word pregnant continues to be considered slightly taboo. In centuries past, in many middle- and upper-class circles, women went into seclusion and never appeared in public during pregnancy.
8. During this summer's heat wave we suddenly had no electricity in my apartment, and the whole city experienced a power outage.
A power outage, also known as a blackout, is often referred to by power companies as a disruption in service to appease the possibility of panic. The term power outage gives little hint of when the power might return and in fact, it sounds as if the power will be out indefinitely. On the other hand, a disruption in service implies the power is only out temporarily— something has gotten in the way of its service, but that the disruption will be fixed soon.
9. According to his defense attorney, the accused robber's statement in court was at least false in part.
The defense attorney is trying to mask the fact that his client misrepresented at least part of the truth. Including the word true in the phrase not completely true is an attempt to suggest that at least part of the statement was not a lie.
10. The town instituted the use of school buses to enforce its new commitment to a policy of ensuring that the student bodies of its schools included students of all races.
Racial inequality remains one of the most controversial and emotional issues in American life. The euphemistic word diversity is used as shorthand whenever speakers are referring to the issue of inequality among the races.

Words You Should Now Know

collateral damage pacification
English Language Learners post-traumatic stress disorder
friendly fire social promotion
holding back special ed
No Child Left Behind taboo

Extra Word(s) You Learned in This Study Guide

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