What is Euphemism?
Euphemism is metaphorical statement or alternative to an otherwise vulgar or offensive statement or expression. It may be used by speakers to amuse others or maybe even mislead listeners into thinking a different meaning from the original thought of the statement or expression. Others do it on purpose to follow certain guidelines and practices and/or to remain polite and nice to listeners and recipients of the expression.
Most euphemisms are metaphorical in nature in which the literal thought and meaning of a particular statement is changed to something that has similar properties or characteristics. In the field of politics and public relations, it is very common for euphemisms to be used for a variety of reasons like misleading others, to make light of a grave situation, and to show politeness and sensitivity to others. In many cases though, most people don’t even recognize that euphemisms are used in a particular statement as these substitutes to expression are encountered regularly.
Like in the example phrase “downsizing of the company”, some may not notice that this is actually a form of euphemism. In this particular example “downsizing” is used to replace the more unpleasant statement “firing of employees”. To sort of protect the supposed good image of a particular company, sometimes it is necessary to somewhat “sugar-coat” some terms when it comes to press releases. By using the word “downsizing”, the whole statement will seem less brutal when compared to statements like “axing people out of the company” and the like.
Other types of euphemisms are intended to cause amusement and perhaps laughter among listeners. There are also times that a funny metaphorical expression is used to make light of a particular bad situation. But besides common metaphors, various other words and techniques are used in making euphemisms. Slangs and names may be used as substitute for certain word/s to make them sound less vulgar.