The Power of Euphemisms

“By ‘while my wardrobe has made a relatively mature shift with the inclusion of more neutral palates and a little less synthetic fabrics’ did you mean grandma sweaters?”- Carley Frick, my annoying little sister, Facebook.com 1/29/10 1:59 AM Mountain Time

Yes. Actually, that is exactly what I meant, and thank you to my sister for pointing this out publicly on my Facebook wall.

Regardless of my affinity for sweaters marketed towards the lively 61-99 female age segment, I really did not want to communicate this to my readers in my last blog post hence the cleverly crafted euphemism.

The Plastic-Barbie-Queen-Fake-It-Till-You-Make-It Award goes to Heidi Montag-Pratt!!!

However, now that I’ve officially been exposed both for my lack of fashion sense and for my ability to hide through my words, I’ve opted to take a page out of the Heidi Montag-Pratt “Guide to Self-Love and Promotion” (See: any issue of “Us Weekly” after September 2007) to embrace and expose my gift to the world (See: Heidi Montag’s super serious singing career).

A euphemism is like a good pair of Spanx. It can cover up areas where you might be lacking–or in the case of Spanx, in the areas where you are not lacking (See: Muffin Top).

For me, I first discovered the power of euphemisms between my freshman and sophomore years of college when I was “updating” my resume.

I needed to take it out of high school, but my most exciting college experiences included frequenting the Warren dining hall and successfully not getting smoothed by the T on my walk to class. How was I going to get any employer want to not pay me any money for a highly coveted unpaid internship?

Euphemisms.

Suddenly, my lifeguard experience transcended its actual function, and I became a super hero hybrid angel among gods on paper.

Lifeguard experience before euphemisms:

  • Sit on stand and yell at little kids
  • Look really cool in trendiest sunglasses
  • Get the drowning kids out of the water before their parents interrupt their phone conversations to ironically lecture me about how to do my job

Lifeguard experience after euphemisms:

  • Provide a fun yet safe environment for children of all ages that fosters growth and healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Employ effective American Red Cross certified methods to maintain safety
  • Angel among humans

Okay, so this was not exactly what I wrote on my resume, but hopefully you get the point.

Like anything else in life, there can definitely be too much of a good thing, so I do not condone excessive euphemism usage.

Nevertheless, when used appropriately, euphemisms can give you the ability to hide an embarrassing fact, make something more interesting or compelling or allow you to transform your resume into an even more impressive reflection of your real world expertise.

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Lindsey Frick would like to note that while it might not be entirely clear from this article, she thinks her sister is actually really awesome.

About Lindsey Frick

Lindsey Frick writes Ad Avenue, an advertising column, for the Quad.

View all posts by Lindsey Frick →

3 Comments on “The Power of Euphemisms”

  1. Being a teacher and needing to write comments about students on report cards and progress reports, I definitely know and understand the power of euphemisms. Also, I agree that while they have a place in our writing, it is not a good idea to overuse them. Great article! Keep them coming!

  2. Maybe you should look up the word “palate” (you wrote “more neutral palates”) before you lose job chances over a homonym error.

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