Euphemism Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 21, 2011

Euphemisms About Politics

Next to death, the subject that probably causes the most emotion—and therefore prompts the frequent use of euphemisms—is politics. Have you heard politicians use any of these euphemisms, and can you describe what they actually mean?


    free the people; tax the rich and give to the poor; reclaim our cities; shake up Washington; loosen government controls; stop big government

Euphemisms About War

The terrible circumstances of war create numerous opportunities for speakers and writers to attempt to soften the blow of war's harsh realities.


    friendly fire (accidental killing of one's own comrades); collateral damage (killing innocent bystanders); pacification (killing or controlling citizens of enemy states); post-traumatic stress disorder, also referred to as PTSD (emotional and mental disturbances resulting from war experiences)

Euphemisms About Education

The educational system creates more than its share of euphemisms by seeking to paint a pretty picture (another euphemism) to address difficult problems.


    social promotion (advancing a failing student to the next grade even if his or her academic performance is not adequate); holding back (failing a student a whole grade year); English Language Learners (the latest term for people learning English as a second language); special ed (education for students who have difficulty in regular classes); No Child Left Behind (the policy of testing student and school performance against national standards to detect inadequate educational performance)

TIP: Listen and read carefully. When you catch a euphemism being used, try to translate it into the reality it's seeking to mask.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Euphemisms Practice Exercises

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