In his new book Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms2 Ralph Keyes devotes two pages to the language of US workplace firings:
Discharging employees is one of the leading occasions for euphemistic discourse in the workplace. No one is fired, of course, or sacked, though they might be furloughed (or, more likely, placed on indefinite furlough). Discharged employees were part of a staff reduction, a recalibration of personnel, or a redeployment of resources. Alternatively, they might be deaccessioned, decommissioned, dehired, discontinued, outplaced, separated, terminated, unassigned, made redundant, or, in the latest cirumlocution, decruited. Employees at a big bank in New York talk of being escessed. (“Jake got excessed last week due to a re-org.”) Counterparts in a Silicon Valley company worry about being surplussed. The voicemail of a dismissed computer company executive there told callers he’d been uninstalled.
For a discussion of a UK expression describing a voluntary leave of absence (known over here as a “mental health day,” see my 2008 post on duvet day.
Excellent and recommended! I’ll have more to say about Euphemania in a future post.
– Nancy Friedman