How Not To Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms

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9780199208395: How Not To Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms

This thoroughly updated new edition of How Not to Say What You Mean celebrates 20 years of R. W. Holder's popular and successful dictionary of euphemisms, offering a delightful collection of jocular and evasive expressions for sex, death, murder, crime, prison, and much more.
Here are almost five thousand euphemistic expressions listed in alphabetical order, ranging from well-known favorites such as "push up the daisies," "fly-by-night," "red light district," "take to the cleaners," "get lucky," and "five-fingered discount," to less amusing expressions from the bureaucratic and military world such as "restructuring," "collateral damage," and "extrajudicial killing." For each word or expression, Holder includes examples from real authors, along with entertaining explanations of the words origins and meaning. Thus we learn that "bite the bullet" (to make a difficult decision) comes from the fact that soldiers, being flogged, were once given a bullet to bite down on, and "Stool Pigeon" (an informant) comes from the practice of tying a pigeon to a stool to lure other pigeons to capture.
New to this edition are over 250 new entries and fourteen introductory articles on major themes in euphemistic language, such as business, sex, death, and the human body. The book includes an extensive thematic index which groups words together under topics such as Age, Bankruptcy, Bribery, Copulation, Sexual Variations, Drunkenness, Erections and Orgasms, Farting, Funerals, Killing and Suicide, Low Intelligence, Politics, Prison, and Warfare.
From "suck the monkey" to "surgical strike," here is a wonderful collection of colorful words that allow us to avoid life's unpleasantries as we add spice and humor to our everyday speech.

"A must for tiptoeing around the truth. It is also rollicking reading for those who love words and the not always forthright uses to which they are put." --Chicago Sun-Times

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About the Author:


R. W. Holder is a business executive and life-long lover of words. The director of numerous companies, he speaks several languages, and travels widely. He is also the author of Thinking About Management.

From Publishers Weekly:

Delightful, quirky and exhaustive, Holder's dictionary of American and British circumlocutions is the kind of reference work that one can spend hours browsing through happily. This third edition includes thousands of alphabetized entries for both old-fashioned and contemporary terms. The term "uncover nakedness," for example, used be a standard Biblical translation for "copulate," though many people wouldn't recognize that use today. (Incidentally, "to line" also meant to copulate, and Holder cites part of Shakespeare's As You Like It as an example of such use: "Winter garments must be lined/So must slender Rosaline.") "Deep six," "underprivileged" and "rip off" still enjoy healthy use, and in Ireland "scuttered" still means "drunk." For Holder, however, this project is about more than just having fun with word games. In fine Orwellian spirit, Holder writes in his introduction that euphemism is "the language of evasion, of hypocrisy, of prudery, and of deceit," which makes it all the more important to be able to see through the embroidery.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Holder, R. W.
Published by Oxford University Press (2007)
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Holder, R. W.
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