Tag Archives: euphemism

A disparaging word

Recently we discussed, in two separate posts, the use of euphemisms, or words used to make something sound better than it is.

Did you know that the euphemism has an opposite? It’s the dysphemism. A dysphemism is a word that is used to make something sound worse—or harsher or more crude—than it is.

I can’t confirm this anywhere, but I wonder if that is where the modern slang “dis” comes from, as in to insult someone. Does anyone know?

The examples I’ve come across in my research aren’t very polite; I suppose that’s why they are what they are. There are countless dysphemisms for using the restroom. My son used an ugly one recently, so ugly I must have put it out of my mind. I remember only that he used it in front of his grandfather.

About.com’s Grammar & Composition site has an interesting take. Here English professor Richard Nordquist points out that dysphemisms, also called cacophemisms, are used to refer to people often take from animal images. Someone is a pig or an old bat or a chicken. Most of their other examples have to do with death, dying and burial.

Do you have any interesting dysphemisms that can be shared in polite company?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends

The rest nest

Last night my husband and I spent two hours gazing into our future.  At the end of the two hours, we signed up for Long Term Care insurance.

The timing of the meeting with our insurance agent wasn’t ideal; and in retrospect, should not have been scheduled so soon after the Golden Girls experience I had just days ago.

In two hours’ time, we saw ourselves a decade or two, maybe three, in the future, when statistically, one or both of us will no longer be able to function independently, or inter-dependently. 

While the agent and my husband were crunching numbers, I visited a place where I was hunched over my walker, or maybe puzzled and doodling all over my checkbook or lying at the foot of the basement stairs with a broken hip.  Or, knowing me, walking away from blazing stove burners long after the pots have come off

Then, while those two pored over actuarial and premium tables, I traveled to Florida, to an upscale assisted living facility, and watched myself playing Scrabble.  My husband was out on the lanai, comfortable in a rocker, alternately grinning and dozing.  A musical group came into the dining room and performed a Sheryl Crow medley and the score from Mamma Mia.

One thing I know as I contemplate the long term care scenario is that we must do away with the word “facility.”  If I am going to one, it can’t be a facility.   It must be something fuzzier.

We were bound to tackle euphemisms here someday, so we might as well start now.

I am not going to an assisted living facility.  Where am I going?

According to the blog of Entertaining Euphemisms, it’s a “wellness and vitality residence” or “continuum of care lifestyle community.”

Pretty good.  Can you do better?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends