A Dictionary of Euphemisms: How Not To Say What You Mean (Oxford Quick Reference)

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9780198607625: A Dictionary of Euphemisms: How Not To Say What You Mean (Oxford Quick Reference)
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Now in paperback, this brand new edition of A Dictionary of Euphemisms: How Not To Say What You Mean is still as lively a guide to the language of evasion, hypocrisy, prudery, and deceit as you could wish for. Packed full of the old favourites, such as 'early bath' or 'push up the daisies', as well as euphemisms from modern times, like 'human sacrifice', 'coffee-housing', and 'tuft-hunter'.

Definitions include examples from literature and the press, along with historical explanations of origins, and now obsolete euphemisms like 'leaping house', 'nightingale' are signposted as such. And to prove that the use of euphemisms is not just a British speciality, there is widespread coverage of American euphemisms too: 'English' (pertaining to sexual deviance), 'watermelon' (an indication of pregnancy).

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Review:

Language is more frequently used to disguise or temper what one means to say rather than telling it like it is, at least that's how it seems when looking through the 5,000 or so euphemisms compiled by R.W. Holder. There are colorful phrases ("bury a quaker" for defecate, "buy a brewery" for become an alcoholic), slang terms ("crib" for brothel), and terms that obfuscate a negative reality (saying "convivial" when meaning habitually drunken or "corrective training" for political imprisonment). Useful for writers, linguists, and students of human behavior, the euphemisms are arranged alphabetically, but cross-indexed thematically. So if you want to know what "foul ane" means, you can look it up directly and find it's a Scottish reference to the devil, but if you're looking for a juicy alternative for "death," the index provides "cop a packet," "suck daisy roots," and "come home feet first." Serving as both a dictionary and a comprehensive thesaurus of idioms, it's a useful as well as entertaining semantic resource. --Stephanie Gold

About the Author:


Having seen something written by Bob Holder as a schoolboy, T. S. Eliot remarked 'That boy loves words'. This love of language underlies this new edition of A Dictionary of Euphemisms.

Bob has lived in West Monkton, near Taunton, since 1951. He has worked for manufacturing companies in Ireland, Belgium, and North America in addition to those in the United Kingdom and has also held a number of public appointments. From 1974 to 1984 he was Treasurer of the University of Bath and remained a Pro-Chancellor until 1997. He is also the author of Thinking About Management (Warner, 1994).

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