Evasive Maneuvers

Euphemisms old and new

An Independent Supply of Slightly More Colorful Language

Do you have a transfusion specialist?

If so, you're a monster who should chase yourself with torches and pitchforks. Transfusion specialist is a euphemism for blood boy: a young, healthy fella who the wealthy pay for their invigorating blood, which they then pump into their withered, evil veins.

This term comes from the land of fiction, specifically the clever HBO comedy Silicon Valley, in which show creator Mike Judge skewers every aspect of the high-pressure, mega-malarkey tech world. In a recent episode, tech genius/billionaire/supervillain Gavin Belson is revealed to have a blood boy, much to the horror of his collaborators and amusement of viewers.

But while the insane term transfusion specialist and even the honest term blood boy are both fictional, treating youthful blood as a fountain of youth is all-too-real. According to a recent story in the San Francisco Gate:

"Parabiosis," or blood transfusions as a means of reversing aging, is gaining steam in the Bay Area of California. And one startup is betting on it. Monterey-based Ambrosia LLC launched a clinical trial last year to inject clients with the plasma of 16-25 year-olds. The price tag? $8,000 for the treatment.

OK then.

There's no science whatsoever to back up the longevity-granting power of fresh teen plasma, so this will probably catch on among the obscenely wealthy. Who knows, maybe one day everyone will be able to afford this vampiric procedure, but I fear it could be eons (or maybe weeks) before congress is ready to pass Draculacare.

Anyhoo, whether you’re young enough to sell your blood for a pretty penny or old enough to prey on the young like Nosferatu, I hope you can appreciate a heaping helping of hokum. Please enjoy the following terms and consider using them in your interoffice memos and grocery lists. They will enhance your hooey and turbocharge your twaddle.

designer pigs
Human organs are always in short supply, and you can't blame scientists for trying harder to find more: even if they plan on finding them in pigs. An article on the work of biologist Luhan Yang, describes her work in terms that would make Porky Pig proud, or maybe just confused: "…she intends to use CRISPR to accomplish what the world's largest drug companies failed to despite investing billions of dollars: create 'designer pigs' whose organs can be transplanted into people." Yay? You have to admit designer pig sounds better than genetically modified pig. The different connotations of those terms may be why I lost my shirt on a genetically modified clothes store.

slightly more colorful language
The New York Times, Thor bless 'em, do some great work, but they also do some silly stuff when it comes to euphemisms. A recent article by John Koblin on Stephen Colbert may have set a new standard for evasion. Koblin quotes Colbert as saying, of a difference in his show since last year's political conventions, "That's when it changed for us… And that's when it started to feel like when you walk off the stage and say, 'God, what a great freaking job, that I get to do this!'" (He used slightly more colorful language.)" You don't say?

illegals, repatriate
I'm obsessed with The Americans, that FX drama about 1980s KGB agents trying to serve the Motherland, raise their kids, and keep the FBI agent across the street off their scent. The show includes many euphemistic terms designed to hide the horrors of espionage. One is illegals, a relatively kind term for Russian secret agents sent to impersonate Americans while destroying America. A considerably more dubious term is repatriate, which has been around since the 1600s and isn't always sinister. But on The Americans, a Russian/scientist immigrant was repatriated when our "heroes" shanghaied him from America and sent him back to Russia, leaving his family with no idea what happened to Dad. In this case, repatriating is kidnapping, which doesn't fit my definition of patriotic.

This sounds like a hip fad among the youth that I am too old to understand from my angry balcony, from whence I hurl insults with my fellow elderly Muppets. Turns out car-popping is an item of crime/police slang for how car thieves optimistically check cars to see if they're locked. According to a WIVB story, "Thanks to nicer weather, the town of Cheektowaga [New York)] has experienced a surge in the number of reports of people breaking into and stealing from vehicles over the last several weeks, Cheektowaga Police warned Thursday." Car-popping is a crime, but it's still not as obnoxious as collar-popping.

Finally, are you an independent supplier?

If so, you might be a courier for British food-delivery company Deliveroo, which has unleashed a smorgasbord of demented drivel on the world.

Thanks to a leaked memo, the world knows that Deliveroo produces enough hooey and hokum to supply the average politician. In Deliveroo-ese, there are no shifts or sessions, only availability. No one signs a contract—everyone signs a supplier agreement. Wages and salary don’t exist—just fees. There are no performance reviews, but there are supplier agreement reviews. No employees are assigned to a zone—but all have their areas of work. Oh, and there are no employees either—just independent suppliers.

What makes companies concoct such crapola? Is it the diabolical desire to save money? Yep.

Employees have rights and are therefore expensive, so every term that is even suggestive of employment must be washed away with a bar of corporate soap. Business comes first—accompanied by a bushel of bushwa.

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Mark Peters is a language columnist, lexicographer, and humorist who has written for Esquire, The Funny Times, New Scientist, Psychology Today, Salon, and Slate. He contributes to OUPblog and writes the Best Joke Ever column for McSweeney's. You can read Mark's own jokes on Twitter, such as, "I play by my own rules, which is probably why no one comes to my board game parties anymore." Click here to read more articles by Mark Peters.

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Comments from our users:

Friday June 9th 2017, 9:40 AM
Comment by: Pete (Boca Raton, FL)
It seems for me colorful language often comes in the suffering of the blissters of the sun. I for one, do a terribble job of writting them down, might be a voice recorder, but at home I put it down.

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