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.
I've gone theme-happy with this column in recent months, looking at euphemisms for death, pregnancy, 30 Rock
, and angels. Enough cohesion! It's time for a random roundup of terms that have crossed my eye, brightened my day, and befuddled my brain.
In honor of the Dictionary of American Regional English
winning the American Library Association's 2013 award for excellence in reference books, Mark Peters is going back to the beginning of the alphabet to uncover a trove of regional euphemisms.