Ralph Keyes, author of many books including the new Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms, talks about the prevalence of euphemisms in our culture—particularly when talking politics.
‘Pushing Up Daisies’ And Our Passion For Euphemisms
From “passed away” to “Chilean sea bass,” euphemisms are a way to avoid unpleasant terms or phrases.
But in Euphemania, Ralph Keyes argues that using them isn’t necessarily lazy or evasive; it can actually be harder to not say what we mean and still get our point across.
“Euphemisms can be incredibly playful and a lot of fun — very creative,” Keyes tells NPR’s Neal Conan.
Take, for example, the euphemisms we use for death. Keyes notes that the French talk about “eating dandelions by the root,” their version of “pushing up daisies.” He also recalls an old high school classmate who once told him how the life insurance industry avoids the word: “When one of their policy holders became eligible for his benefits to go to his heirs, they said he was ‘post-retirement.'” And one of the author’s favorite modern expressions is “going offline.”