Just as a biologist can tell a critter from a creepy-crawly by the number of legs, euphemism enthusiasts can tell a 5-alarm, major-league, restaurant-quality euphemism by the presence of three words. Readers of previous columns may remember terms such as employee dialogue session, strategic dynamism effort, enhanced pension offer, life problem issue, taco meat filling,
and customer pain point
. Every time, three words = three metric tons of malarkey.
In his latest monthly batch of under-the-radar euphemisms, Mark Peters illuminates why the care of "post-health professionals" might be necessary after someone is sent on a "trip to Belize."
Rebranding — which is a heckuva euphemism itself — has been the root cause of many euphemisms over the years, as fish have become sea kittens
and rich jerks have become job creators
. The latest attempt at ridiculous, retch-worthy rebranding is knowledge people
: in other words, librarians.
Lexicographer Hugh Rawson died recently. Among other accomplishments, he wrote Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk
, a monumental, essential look at euphemisms that every language-lover should own. I can't recommend it enough.
I believe in equality: in society and in columns. Last month, I looked at the prolific use of gentleman
in euphemisms. This month, I turn to lady.
Lady euphs prove something I always suspected: the English language is seldom a well-behaved lady, but it always shows you a good time.
Do gentlemen exist anymore? The word feels old-fashioned and paleolithic in the era of dudes, bros, and creeps. However, the word gentleman
has a long, vibrant history as a euphemism. That history is worth celebrating. In the spirit of a recent column on angels
, here's a look at the critters and crimes gentleman
has coddled and concealed.
Over the past couple of years, I've done several columns on massive dictionaries that have been recently completed or published, like the Dictionary of American Regional English
and Green's Dictionary of Slang
. Unfortunately, not all lexicographical projects have such a happy ending.