A Dictionary of Euphemisms

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9780198692751: A Dictionary of Euphemisms

We all use euphemisms every day. We speak of "full-figured" women. We "fudge" on our income tax. We step lively to avoid "horse apples"--and step even livelier in the grip of the "Aztec Two-step." We say that the dead have "bit the dust" or have been "promoted to glory." Now, in A Dictionary of Euphemisms, R. W. Holder gives us an engaging volume that celebrates this human tendency to use mild, vague or roundabout expressions rather than those which are blunt, precise, and disagreeably true.
Here are thousands of entertaining and informative entries that range from long-established circumlocutions such as "everlasting life," "the Grim Reaper," "powder room," and "house of ill repute," to recent coinages such as "odorously challenged" (smelly), "corporate entertainment" (bribery), "AMW - actress, model, whatever" (prostitute), "downsizing" (laying off workers), and "white-knuckler" (a commercial flight on a small aircraft). Arranged in alphabetical order, the Dictionary gives definitions, examples from real authors, and historical explanations where appropriate. Holder also includes an extensive bibliography and, equally important, a Thematic Index, so that readers can look up euphemistic words and expressions for Death, Mental Illness, Narcotics, Obesity, Poverty, and other topics.
A Dictionary of Euphemisms is a browser's delight and an essential reference book for all lovers of language. Readers will find in it a captivating guide to the art of not saying what we mean.

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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:


About the Author:
R. W. Holder is the director of numerous companies, speaks several languages, and travels widely.

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