Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


Oxford English Dictionary

1. Rhetoric. That figure of speech which consists in the substitution of a word or expression of comparatively favourable implication or less unpleasant associations, instead of the harsher or more offensive one that would more precisely designate what is intended.

2. An instance of this figure; a less distasteful word or phrase used as a substitute for something harsher or more offensive.


skunk fur > "Alaskan Sable"

pornography > adult entertainment

overweight > big-boned

civilian casualties in warfare > collateral damage

to die > cash in your chips, cross over to the other side, pass away

penalty, punishment > disincentive

junk mail > direct mail

genocide > ethnic cleansing

coitus or sexual intercourse > go all the way, do the wild thing, making whoopee, roll in the hay

stolen merchandise > it fell off the back of a truck

garbage dump > landfill

trailer > mobile home

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