Chapter and Verse, Newswordy

What are Euphemisms?

The recent departure of Danny Boyle as the director of the latest James Bond Film was because of 'creative differences.' Creative differences in a euphemism, but can you guess what it means and what exactly are euphemisms and why do we have them?

English has a wealth of euphemisms, which are coded expressions that we use when whatever we are referring to is considered inappropriate for the circumstances or when we are embarrassed or uncomfortable with the literal version. As one might expect, many euphemisms relate to death or to what a true euphemist would refer to as 'the trouser region'.

Euphemisms go back to the beginnings of the language but the word euphemism itself wasn't defined until Thomas Blount included it in his Glossographia in 1656:
Euphemism, a good or favourable interpretation of a bad word.

Many euphemisms are old but new ones continue to be coined: for every Shakespearian 'beast with two backs' there's a 20th-century' knee trembler'.

Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.

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Quentin Crisp

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Extracurricular Activities

in a previous blog entry THE ACHADAMIE ANGLAIS? NO THANK YOU! I explained that the English language was always evolving, new words and phrases were being added on an almost daily basis. For that very reason, it's often difficult to keep up and to forget that your innocent expression has a not so innocent connotation too.

Many of my students are currently going through the horrendous process of applying for an internship. Often they will be applying for English speaking companies at both home and abroad. So CV completion using good English is essential. 

One such common phrase used by French Students in their CV's is extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activities is used for the hobbies or interests sections... While your French English teacher may well have told you that it means an activity that a student does in addition to their studies (the curriculum). - which of course it does... more often than not it is used in British English as a slang (ARGO) expression for sexual activity which is often clandestine.

"Bill Clinton's extracurricular activities with Monica Lewinski in the late 1990's, very nearly cost him the presidency.

My advice is - don't use it. It's a distraction, like inconsistent punctuation, poor spelling or bad grammar. The inevitable smirk or snigger that this phrase can evoke will cause the reader to lose focus on appreciating the real content of your CV. Why risk it. 

President Clinton

Thus the secret-filled days of Mitterrand and Giscard d'Estaing have faded in the white-hot glare of 24/7 publicity about the French president's private life... future French presidents, many of whom will no doubt continue in the long tradition of EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. To w...


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President Hollande

Thus the secret-filled days of Mitterrand and Giscard d'Estaing have faded in the white-hot glare of 24/7 publicity about the French president's private life... future French presidents, many of whom will no doubt continue in the long tradition of EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. To w...


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Here are a few more examples ...

He’s between jobs = Unemployed.
She’s expecting = Pregnant
He’s getting on a bit = He’s getting old
We had to let him go = He was fired.
Nature calls = Go to the toilet.
Wardrobe Malfunction = A problem with clothing that allows breasts, buttocks or genitals to be seen.
Creative Differences = Problems among musicians, dancers, writers, actors, etc. that make it difficult or impossible for them to work together

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