Etymology of Euphemism

Found in Latin as euphemismus based on the Greek euphēmismós, comprised of eu, which refers to the idea of good or correct behavior, based on the Indo-European *es-, for ‘being’, along with the component -phēm, for phēme, interpreted as ‘word’ or ‘speech’, associated with the verb phanai, for ‘speaking’, with roots in the Indo-European *bha-, for ‘to say’ or ‘to speak’, and completed by the suffix -ism, representing the element of the Latin -ismus, traced to the Greek -ismós, denoting action.

Its lexical components appear in euphony (given in the Latin euphonĭa with reference to the Greek euphōnía), dysphemism (conjugating dis- instead of eu-, to respond as the antithesis of euphemism), prophet (observed in the Latin prophēta, with reference to the Greek prophḗtēs), or blasphemy (recorded in the Latin blasphemĭa, with origin in the Greek blasphēmía).

It is a linguistic tool that comprises a subtle and politically correct way through which we choose the words to express ourselves, avoiding a conflictive direction that may generate a certain impact or displeasure in the receiver. For example, instead of drastically and negatively describing an individual as ‘rude’, we indicate that he or she should act appropriately.

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