Nicola here. I'm in my writing cave dealing with revisions to my latest manuscript, so today I have dusted down a Wench classic post from 7 years ago which provoked an interesting and fun discussion at the time and I hope will do the same now its been updated and expanded. The topic is "euphemisms" and the first line of this blog piece is of course a euphemism in itself. What I really mean is that I planned a new blog topic but ran out of time to write it. Euphemisms are "a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing." And we use them all the time: "Downsizing" for job cuts, "certified pre-owned" for a used item (or "pre-loved" for clothes), "friends with benefits," "creative with the truth," ladies' powder room" to quote just a few. There are endless ways of softening something that sounds too direct and the word euphemism itself originates from the Ancient Greek meaning "good speaking."
There are many euphemisms for things that are considered too personal to express directly. This is where this blog post receives it's X rating as we plunge into topics that have been and may still be culturally taboo for some people. In both my mother's and grandmother's generation there were certain words that were simply not appropriate to use. My dearly-loved godmother, for example, completely confused me when she referred to her "sit upon." I thought she meant a piece of furniture rather than her bottom! But euphemisms enable people to speak about things they find uncomfortable. They are comfort words that help us broach difficult topics. It's worth bearing in mind though, that you can stumble into cultural quicksands with euphemisms very easily. The "fanny pack" is one example, and did you know that in Scotland a "peenie" is an apron so "get your peenie out" could be misconstrued? And whilst on that subject, the question "which way do you dress?" from a tailor to a client during a trouser fitting is a euphemism designed to save both from embarrassment but which could easily cause confusion.