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, Revised Edition, 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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