A euphemism is (according to Wikipedia), a:
"substitution for an expression that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver, using instead an agreeable or less offensive expression"
According to the less reverent (if that's the opposite of irreverent - incidentally, one of my unique qualities according to my boss. Hmm, not sure about that as a good reference comment!) Urban Dictionary, it's also variously defined as:
"the substitution of a milder, vaguer word or expression for one considered to be offensive or unpleasant"
"trying to make the mean things you say sound nicer by using different words"
As in, Let's be friends instead of, You're kidding, not even with a paper bag on your head!
Some of my favourite euphemisms are
- 'falling pregnant' - which makes it sound like you can just trip in the street and whoops, there you go, pregnant again (or with child if you prefer). You could always be expecting or have a bun in the oven instead.
- tired and emotional - sounds so much better than p*ssed. Thank you, Private Eye!
- sleeping with - although it's a bit of a dim memory at the moment, I seem to remember, if it's at all worthwhile, not a lot of sleeping gets done.
- calling on Huey, or for my non-Scottish readers, talking to God on the great white telephone, losing your lunch, or (apparently) blowing chunks.
- Gardening leave
But be warned, if you feel like doing a Google search for some choice examples and are of a delicate disposition, don't! Perhaps not unsurprisingly most of the euphemisms relate to matters of a sexual nature, or indeed intimate bodily functions (she said euphemistically!). On the other hand, if you want to broaden your education, go ahead, have fun with Google!!