Posts Tagged ‘Euphemisms’


I just read a self-indulgent, useless piece by an editor at another small press regarding a recently deceased prominent sci-fi author (Ursula Le Guin). The editor had nothing interesting to say — whatever; it’s what I expected — but what really irritated me was her use of the term “passed away” in place of “dead” or “deceased.”

If you’re trying to convey useful information, euphemisms — even the most commonly understood — are a lousy, inefficient way to do it. Let’s take this euphemism: “passed away” is a  term with two words, a dipthong, and three syllables. The slightly more polite but still accurate “deceased” is a single word with two syllables. “Dead” consists of a single word and a single syllable.

Over the last three-and-a-half years, nearly of 20 my friends have died (all younger than me). They’re dead; they didn’t “pass”; they didn’t “pass away”; they didn’t “go to a better place.” They’re dead. And I miss them.

There’s no way to sugar coat it, and trying to do so is obnoxious, condescending — taking the reader as a delicate flower who can’t handle the truth.

As Lemme put it, my friends are “stone dead, forever.”

Using euphemisms wastes time and makes honest discourse more cumbersome.

Stop it. Please stop it.


SLAVE OWNER, n. The world’s most effective job creator, and one still widely admired and pined over by certain segments of the U.S. popure consideration for the feeling of others, are reluctant to openly discuss their feelings in raw, historically accurate words. Hence their widespread adoption of the more mellifluous, soothing term, “job creator.”

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–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary


OMELETTE, n. A term—along with the related word “eggs”—much beloved by apologists for “revolutionary” regimes. As in, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few promises,” or, more accurately, “You can’t make an omelette without murdering a few people.”

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–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary