If you could banish one euphemism forever

What would it be?  Because I mentioned on Rose City Reader‘s blog today that I hate it when books say “sex” as a noun to refer to genitals, and it made me realize that I couldn’t let another day go by without telling y’all how much I hate that particular use of that particular word.  Does it count as a euphemism?  Whatever, I hate it.  I hate it so much.  I hate it, hate it, hate it.  If I could banish it from the face of the earth, I WOULD DO IT.  Even typing the phrase “his sex” or “her sex” makes me squirm.  It’s so faux-solemn and at the same time unbearably cutesy and evasive.  Ugh, it makes me want to throw up.

So how about it?  What euphemism is more sickening to you than the actual thing (sex, death, sickness, disability, lying, religion, etc) that it’s trying to avoid saying?

53 thoughts on “If you could banish one euphemism forever

  1. I’m with you on “his sex” followed by “his member” or “his *throbbing* member” … I mean… it’s a member of what, exactly?

    I’ll have to get back to you on other euphemisms… I can’t think of any at the moment, but… there are quite a few that make me go O_o

  2. “Pleasure center”. If whatever you are writing is graphic enough to talk about female genitalia in that much detail, then it is already graphic enough to just call it by its damn name.

  3. “Vajayjay”. I hate, hate, hate the word and fight the urge to scream at the television when I hear people using it. Call it what it is! If you’re going to talk about it publically, you should be mature enough to use the correct name.

  4. Good topic! I can’t think of mine right now, although I know there is one. But I know my mother’s. When she was a little girl, they weren’t allowed to say “stink,” only “smell,” As in “That smells.” Now she loooves to say stink.

    I suppose I just tend to think most euphemisms for sexual things are funny. Potty ones less so. Probably because you end up hearing the repeated and repeated and repeated by a toddler during toilet training. Whatever word you pick for a kid, you better be able to stand it. I speak as the oldest by six years of seven children.

    Okay, yeah, that’s probably it. But, see, it is a MULTIGENERATIONAL euphemism EXCLUSIVE to my family and it is SO DUMB I can’t even type it without getting irritated.

    Runner up: boobies.

  5. Maybe it makes me sound unsympathetic, but I hate when people say “passed” instead of “passed away” or “died.” It’s so overly solemn, in a creepy mortuary way.

    Same thing with “loved one.” Especially in greeting cards. Could ya take the trouble to figure out whether it was the person’s grandmother or brother, for goodness’ sake? “Loved one” is so generic.

    Obviously I don’t hear or read enough sex talk as I have no complaints about euphemisms in that category. 🙂

    • I was going to say “passed” as well! I’m not even that crazy about “passed away.” I guess I just prefer the reality…if someone is dead, they’ve died.

      • I say “passed” when I mention to someone who I just met that my dad died. It’s hard, especially because I’m fairly young, to tell someone something like that. Frankly, I don’t think that they want to hear it, and I don’t usually want to go into it, but if they say something implying my dad is living, I have to say something. Like if they say, where does he work? Maybe dropping the “away” is just a fast way to get it done.

  6. I’m so with you on “sex” especially because there are so many dimensions to “sex” and yet that term reduces it to Tab A and Slot B. Euphemisms for body parts are all pretty lame — especially those that don’t conjure up visions of body parts — like food or geography references.

  7. This made me laugh. What a great post.

    MOUND. I hate the word MOUND used as a euphemism for a woman’s vulva or vagina. MOUND. What a gross word. Why I feel the need to put it in all caps, I’m not sure.

    MEMBER is another one. And LOINS. LOINS and MEMBERS should not throb whatsoever.

    Please pass the brain bleach..

      • Girding your Loins makes me think of preparing.

        Loin alone makes me think of pork tenderloin. Which is delicious to eat and makes for awkward sexual scenes when I’m giggling at “loin”

  8. Hilarious! My family was too coy even for euphemisms when I was growing up. ‘Down there’ was about as expressive as anyone got. One thing that annoys me, irrationally, is the substitution of ‘bally’ for ‘bloody’, which isn’t exactly a euphemism, but it drives me mad when my husband does it. His mother says it and I somehow feel transported back to the 1940s and not in a good way.

    But I’m also with everyone else on the issue of ‘member’. Euwwww.

    • Wow! I’m impressed. A euphemism of a euphemism, sort of. I remember reading somewhere that “bloody” was a tamer version of “By Our Lady,” dodging the profanity of swearing by Mary. Or, maybe “Our Lady” counts as a euphemism too. That makes three! (Mentally, I hear the word “Bally” in Hugh Laurie’s voice as Bertie Wooster.)

  9. LOL! I’m not really a fan of any euphemisms – I prefer just to use the actual words.

    I hate it when people say they are going to ‘powder their nose’ when they mean go to the toliet. My small children have made me much more open about these sorts of things and I often have to catch myself from saying that ‘I’m just going for a wee’ when I have other people in my house, but really is there any harm in me saying that?

    • Oh, I hate euphemisms for when someone has to poop. I think it’s because I hate talk about poop so much that I find saying “pinch one off”, “pitch a loaf”, or “drop the kids off at the pool” that sicker.

      • I would rather someone just say “I need to visit the bathroom” because “kids at the pool” and the like are a lot more awkward and unpleasant than “holy crap I need to crap” or something like that.

        The sly-er it tries to be, the more annoying it is.

  10. My 18 year old grandson has begun reducing everything to “whatever floats your boat” for what my wife and I say! The phrase become so “inane” after you hear a few times, that it is about to drive nuts. . .
    Charlie in Forsyth

  11. I also hate almost all of the sexual euphemisms. Sex, member, mound, secret places, all of those. Whenever I come across something like that in the books I am reading, I immediately become disengaged. I just feel like it’s so squicky to rename body parts like that, and I feel like if you have to describe a certain part of the body, you shouldn’t play coy, you should just use the correct term!

  12. 1) “disadvantaged”.. just say poor..

    2) any version of “the big guy” type phrases to replace god references.


    if we are going to do away with some word usage i have two items to add, outside the euph category

    While we are at it, i would like to promote the idea of slapping people who say “For all intensive purposes” instead of “intents and purposes”

    also tack on people who use the word literally too often and incorrectly.. look it up people.

    i know, i know.. wrong forum to appeal regarding this 🙂

  13. While I heartily agree with everyone on the subject of throbbing members, etc., it does occur to me that there aren’t any very appealing words for those bits. The clinical words are a bit chilling, suggesting diagrams in sex ed classes. What is a writer of a sex scene to do?

    • “those bits” (snicker)
      My husband to this day has to say “He said wood” just like Beavis and Buthead when ever the word wood in any context is uttered.
      So 1985.

  14. I agree with you, and I’d have to say that the usage of sex as a noun is completely annoying. Most of the others in the comments drive me crazy too.

  15. is it supposed to graphic? is it supposed to be technical? whatever. it’s stupid. perhaps not to banish, but I wouldn’t use it. However, there are so many other terrible substitutes. Like for a woman, love button, or nub are awful.

  16. I am laughing so hard it hurts now. I have never heard some of these euphemisma and they are killing me (but not literally!!!) My family of origin uses bathroom euphemisms that are so embarrassing to me that I cannot even write them here. “Potty” makes me cringe, too.

    • @mumsy:
      Friends of mine refer to it as “Fighting a Holy War”
      with good triumphing over the “Brown Demon”

      .. gets interesting around here… 🙂

  17. I don’t know if this qualifies as euphemism, but I don’t like the phrase “lost her virginity.” [Careless girl!] But I LOATHE all the menstruation euphemisms, and top on my list is “surfing the crimson wave.” Ew. Also any reference to Aunt Flo, or even the coy “my friend.”

  18. HaHA, I knew euphemisms would be a hot-button issue. I like to know that I am not the only one with white-hot hatreds for turns of phrase.

  19. Here’s one no one else has mentioned: “home”
    As in “they bought a home” or “you are invited to our home”
    It strikes me as presumptuous to substitute that word for “house.”
    I also hate it when I go to a restaurant and they advertise something that’s “home-made.” Well, no. It’s actually “restaurant made” unless you have a license for your home kitchen and actually brought it in.
    Even more hated: ho-made. That has a fun new meaning these days.

    Can I say one I love? “He had to see a man about a dog.” It seems to mean anything from “he had to pee” to “he had to do something secret and I know what it is but I’m not going to tell you.”

    • I used to feel more strongly about “home” than I do now. Realty listings finally inured me. It’s just one of those tiresome lies everyone tells.

      Man about a dog is a good one! I have a favorite too. I can’t really convey it without doing the voice. The vivacious old Japanese woman who lived next door when I was small used to say it. She had an almost impenetrable accent.

      “Oh my Go . . . . lly!”

      She was made of awesome. And she gave a five year old strong black tea and treated her like an adult. That may have something to do with it.

  20. I hate any version of passed, passed on, passed away – because he/she/it DIED. And regarding ‘all intensive purposes’ my pet hate in that direction is to ‘hone in on’- as someone up above said – look it up, people; ‘to hone’ is ‘to sharpen’, ‘to home in on’ is ‘to locate’ – like homing pigeon….. This is indeed addictive –

    • “Hone in on.” AAGH! Me too! There are a lot of these (what are they called, anyway?) that I hate, but I hate them so much, I seem to block them from my conscious mind: I only remember them when someone uses one. You could do a lot more pet language peeves posts, Jenny. Book bloggers are the perfect audience.

    • I thought of one I’ve never been able to figure out: Is it jury-rigged, or Jerry-rigged? Jerry (as in Jerries = Germans, WWI) makes more sense to me, as juries aren’t known for their creative mechanical quick-fixes, but I’ve heard it explained both ways.

      • @Trapunto

        I have heard it both ways as well,


        i think this one kinda depends on the context of it’s use as to which is “more accurate”..
        This is just how i broke it down growing up.

        Jury Rigged: as in “fixed to have only one result”

        Jerry Rigged: i am pretty sure other versions besides Jerry exist, depending on local ethnic concerns or hot political issues of the time it was popularized.

        i grew up in a very racist area and the backwards citizens used the common variation “ni**er-rigged”, essentially meaning cobbled together.. Jerry Rigged is likely very similar in origin/thought.

        so one is an ace in the hole
        the other would be standardized derogatory


        I agree, more word discussions would be nice…

      • Thanks, Erisian!

        So, I guess the logic behind the misuse of “jury-rigged” is:

        Rigged juries are bad.

        Cobbling things together is bad.

        Therefore cobbling things together is like rigging a jury.

        (Unless I’m missing something.)

      • Actually, I always thought it was gerry-rigged – as in gerrymandering. But I was wrong. According to my dictionary, it’s jury-rigged (rigged up for a temporary purpose). I think “jerry-rigged” got conflated with “jerry-built”, a slap at WWII German “ersatz” building materials.

      • I was pretty certain this was “jury-rigged”, so I looked it up in the etymological dictionary (www.etymonline.com – I love it!) and found:

        jury (adj.)
        “temporary,” 1610s, in jury-mast, a nautical term for a temporary mast put in place of one broken or blown away. The word is probably ultimately from O.Fr. ajurie “help, relief,” from L. adjutare (see aid).

  21. @Trapunto

    i think attempting apply logic here may cause an aneurysm.
    i would suggest applying liberal amounts of tequila instead 🙂

    …. language are always more better when thoroughly sauced

    oºhIC Hic!ººoº “fors he’s a jorlly good[…]”

    • Hey, I think Erisian has unlocked the secret for appreciating Hemmingway, Jenny!

      The liberal application adolescence–but tequila will do in a pinch.

      (Erisian, if you are anywhere in the continental U.S., aren’t you starting a little early?)

  22. I was under the impression that ‘jury-rigged’ is an old sailing term – because so many repairs at sea must be – er – jury-rigged . And I think Jenny has already got her book crowd underway with pet hates – how about nu-cu-lar (nuclear where I come from – I find myself shouting at the TV) And Hemingway does benefit from adolescence. –

    • damn you virginia.. a simple wikipedia search proves you right, and me an overthinker 🙂
      i should have done that from the start !

      we should just refer to it all as “MacGyvering” and be done with them all!

  23. “Expresso” gives me the vapors – and “ekcetera” makes me twitch. How about you? And although it was once explained to me, I don’t know why “jury” in “jury-rigged” – did Wikipedia help?

    • “Smithstonian”
      “Draws” for drawers (I happen think that one’s cute. It’s the last wisp of my husband’s vestigal Maine/Massachusetts accent.)

      My granny goes bonkers over accessories pronounced with a soft c.

      The wikipedia entry though jury might be from the Latin via the Old French ajurie (“help or relief”). That sounds right. When in doubt, it’s usually French.

  24. I hate the phrase “passed away” every time I hear it. When people say things like “He passed away,” I think of someone “passing gas.” Which is another stupid phrase that I also hate.
    We aren’t vapors and I prefer to think of our souls as more than farted out, which is what it sounds like when people say “passed away.”
    As far as words for your body parts? Use the correct terminology, and don’t tell your kids that body parts are something to feel awkward about. And if you feel awkward about your own body, find a way not to.
    Sorry if this comment is late. I read the first few comments and then had to chime in. I actually searched “‘I hate the phrase passed away'” and this came up. I was hoping there were others who also hated that phrase.

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