Euphemism and Lexical Synonymy

Leonard Danglli


This paper discusses the linguistic phenomenon of euphemism and the contribution it makes to the creation of a great number of synonymic sets in language. Euphemisms emerge in language due to the need of language users to use less offensive, embarrassing or direct words and replace them with more pleasant or indirect words. However, the emergence of euphemisms does not mean that the already existing words go out of use. On the contrary, they coexist in language, mainly in the form of synonymic sets, allowing the language user to choose between one or the other according to the context of use and intended function of the word. The paper also elaborates on the areas which attract the greatest number of euphemisms, such as death, religion, bodily functions, sex, and disease. Nevertheless, there is a growing tendency to use euphemism in such areas as politics, business and war. Numerous examples are provided throughout the paper to illustrate the arguments.

Keywords: euphemism, synonym, language, connotation, lexical choice.

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