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Hmm... I'd have said that in this usage 'slaughter' and 'annihilate' would be more simply viewed as hyperbole.

Could euphemisms, then, be considered as hypobole?

--I certainly think that both euphemisms might be a subset of understatement and dysphemisms a form of hyperbole, and I think using those examples in this article is acceptable. Very interesting read, by the way. 23:31, 18 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'd agree that slaughter and annihilate are hyperbole. Andjam 04:29, 25 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure whether one could say that all dysphemism is hyperbole; they are related but distinct. In any case it's certainly not true that all hyperbole is dysphemism, and the above-mentioned quotes are definitely not. In keeping with that, I don't think it's true that "Dysphemism is as common as euphemism in everyday usage." The sociolinguistic motivation is obviously opposite - to put it in vulgar terms, "slumming it" as opposed to "putting on airs", and the former is much rarer, for obvious reasons. 17:31, 28 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I took out beerware from the examples: a dysphemism uses harsher language than appropriate. It may be humorous or hurtful. We agree? Beerware isn't a dysphemism because "beer" isn't (in this context) harsh language. It is just a desirable commodity, it could just as easily be called "sodaware" if the license had asked for a soda.

If I had a friend that wrote awesome code, but had a drinking problem, I might call humorously call his programs 'beerware' and then I would call it a dysphemism, but that is a different situation (I think). Mscski (talk) 18:18, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cacos vs Dys[edit]

I already reverted the stripping of entity references, but I don't know about the content changes (s/caco/cacos/ and s/non/bad/). did the Greek language really have two words that both translate to 'bad' in the English language?

'Caco-' is more correct. The prefix 'dys-' generally means 'not', just like the latin 'dis-'. The opposite of "eu-" (=good, well) is "kako-" (=bad, evil). mholland 01:40, 7 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, never mind; the OED has 'dysphemism'. But it gives the etymology as a derivation from 'euphemism' - whoever came up with 'dysphemism' was clearly a lazy scholar at his Greek. Euphemism/dysphemism also fits better by analogy with (e)utopia/dystopia. OED has also got 'cacotopia' but the only reference is Bentham. I think leave it alone because even if caco- is better Greek, the coinage was English. mholland 03:15, 7 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Sucks" as mainstream slang[edit]

When "The Simpsons" had Bart saying about a school play, "I can't believe it, but this both sucks and blows." then I knew 'sucks' was close to acceptability. When I heard Alex Trebec quoting the above line verbatim on Jeopardy, I knew it had arrived. Actually, I was more surprised that he would say "blows" since I thought that had a lot of ground to cover yet. Sorry, I don't have a reference for either one, but if someone can find one, it would add a cite. 08:46, 26 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows" is the exact quote. It's deliberately risqué because it clearly alludes to the origin of both phrases (it's certainly physically possible...) If that passes muster on mainstream television, then "this sucks" and "this blows" certainly do. 19:54, 8 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
FWIW, the phrase "That idea of yours blowed!" was used on an episode of My Parents Are Aliens, which is a children's show (although it might not have been in the version shown in the US, which is censored). On the other hand, in the Red Dwarf smeg-ups, there's one clip where Chloë Annett says "[bleep!] jobs" instead of "boob jobs." That was bleeped, even though it is quite obvious what she'd said from the comments of the other cast members. RobbieG 20:54, 28 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

sucks and jerk[edit]

Maybe other examples might be found? "Sucks eggs" with much the same usage, but certainly not obscene, comes decades before the fellatio-reference. Certainly most people think of the "sucks dick" phrase as lying behind the usage, but there's some chronological overlap that muddles the example. More: I'm not at all sure that "jerk" is connected with "jerk off" (don't have my Partridge dictionary with me...) Without documentation (which is very tough to find for terms like this) it's easy to fall into presumptive but unwarranted etymologies. Adamdavis
I've heard "sucks eggs" as a pejorative phrase before, though it may be on the border between sexual and nonsexual: On one hand, some British dialects use "eggs" as slang for "testicles"; to speakers of those dialects, "sucking eggs" might still suggest fellatio. On the other hand, some animal species (such as snakes and weasels) do feed on eggs by sucking them. Those animals often developed bad reputations in European cultures; therefore, "sucking eggs" might equate some bad person with predatory vermin.
As for a purely nonsexual "sucks" phrase, I have heard "sucks pond scum" used informally (mostly in writing humorous rating/review articles). However, that phrase doesn't appear as often as "sucks eggs" or "sucks" with no object; I assume it was coined after the sexual connotation of "sucks" had weakened. --Ingeborg S. Nordén 00:55, 26 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also from the Oxford English Dictionary: the phrase "To suck the hind tit (teat)" meaning to be inferior, to be a runt, dates back to 1940. To practice fellatio goes back another decade, but that doesn't seem to be precisely it. Variations as children's expressions of contempt go back to 1900. So apparently this expression has been around, and finally made it to acceptable social dialogue. Strangely enough, with regard to 'egg', this can signify the head of the glans penis rather than the testicle(s)in certain English dialects especially those with Scandinavain ties from the NE of the old Danelaw. 'Muna' in Finnish denotes an egg but is widely used as a slang equivalent of 'dick' to the extent that eggs are now often called kananmunat - 'chicken's eggs' to avoid the embarrassment of a double entendre. Jatrius 22:29, 19 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

According to the OED, "jerk" does not come from "jerk-off". It is a shortened form of "jerkwater", as in "jerkwater train", a train on a branch line of the railway, and hence, anything small, insignificant, or inferior. (The name for the train itself arose "because train crews, when the water got low, often had to stop by a creek, form a bucket brigade and jerk water from the stream to fill the tender tank.") I have accordingly deleted the sentence about "jerk".

Inaccurate examples?[edit]

Most of the examples given don't seem to match the description of "the usage of an intentionally harsh word or expression instead of a polite one". What is dysphemistic about "not the sharpest tool in the shed", for example? As far as I can see it's a straightforward euphemism. In fact, "crippleware," "dead tree edition," "snail mail" and (possibly) "worm food" seem to be the only examples listed that fit the definition. Thoughts? -- Hux 18:28, 26 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree that "not the sharpest tool in the shed" is a euphemism, along with most of the examples in the article (besides those you give above). "On the rags" sounds like a dysphemism to me, as it's quite evocative. –Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 14:41, 23 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Looking again, the sharpest tool example is no longer mentioned in the article, and the article does state “Dysphemism” may be either offensive or merely humorously deprecating. –Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 14:55, 23 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is ghastly, was it written by a non native speaker of english, perhaps one of the colonial types. None of the examples match the definition at all. Whoever wrote this is either autistic or illiterate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:14, 11 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tell me about it, I looked under "euphemism," found this was its opposite, and thought right away it sounded right that what I added (to "beat someone up" Meaning to tickle like crazy) was a dysphemism. I took it literally once and was upset before the person told me what it really means. I mean, if it's not one, I don't know what that term I added is. (talk) 01:36, 28 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Kicked the bucket" is not in any way a euphemism; even between close friends it would absolutely be offensive to use this phrase when sensitivity is expected, e.g in reference to a loved one. The cited article[1] does not say that "kicked the bucket" is a euphemism in any context, and is really about how the appropriateness of X-phemisms is shaped by metaphorical meaning, not idioms having different registers. I removed the example, maybe the rest of the paragraph should be removed. Sinbadbuddha (talk) 13:16, 15 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dysphemism as common as euphemism? And some new examples?[edit]

  1. Like above, I'm skeptical that dysphemism and euphemism are equally common. If no-one provides a reference or objection within the next week or so, I'll reword that sentence to "dysphemism is not uncommon" or something similar.
  2. I've been keeping an eye out for a while for terms that deliberately cast their subjects in a negative light, in the spirit of dead tree edition. The only three I've noticed are junk food, junk mail and idiot box. Should these be included in the article? –Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 15:02, 23 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. The second paragraph of the article intro is entirely about euphemism and doesn't really do much to further the reader's understanding of what they came here to find out. Perphaps it could be restructured? (talk) 13:09, 12 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

An acceptable citation for "preferred adjectives amongst the gay community itself."?[edit]

Noticed that the article has the following tagged as needing a citation for the line:

“Queer” and “gay,” for example, both started as euphemisms for “homosexual,” and then got on the euphemism treadmill and became insults—but are now the preferred adjectives amongst the gay community itself.

Not sure if this would be authoritative enough, but the LGBTetc group on my campus primarily uses the term Queer themselves, and notes that it's in the process of being reclaimed as a positive term. Here's an excerpt from their FAQ[2]

Isn't the word queer considered offensive or homophobic? Historically the term has been used to denigrate sexual and gender minorities but more recently it has been reclaimed by these groups and is increasingly used as an expression of pride. Queer can be a convenient, inclusive term when referring to issues and experiences affecting the many groups subsumed under this umbrella. Because it is still used to demean lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit and trans people, those who do not identify as queer or queer-positive are urged to use the term with caution, or not at all.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by ValeOfAldur (talkcontribs) 00:02, 26 April 2007 (UTC). Reply[reply]


I've been adding/editting a few examples, but to be honest, this seems to be a classic cruftlist. While I don't agree with simple removal, I am wondering if enough people are watching this page to come up with a consensus number of examples to demonstrate dysphem, without crufting. 3, 5, 10... -- PaulxSA (talk) 00:59, 31 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Deletion of Dysphemism treadmill content[edit]

Content on so-called dysphemism treadmill deleted this day due to lack of any reliable/authoritative cite, merely circular references to this Wikipedia article and others within Wikipedia employing it, and casual use by those evidently familiar with the term via same: Wikiuser100 (talk) 16:24, 22 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Confused by 'Republican' in Reclamation and dysphemism treadmill[edit]

I am perplexed by the inclusion of the term, "Republican" in the sentence about linguistic reappropriation or "reclamation". How does Republican fit here? Scanlyze (talk) 23:05, 8 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I meant to write "right wing". I wrote the majority of the article. I can see someone took it off. If anyone wants to reconsider it, say "right wing". i was in a hurry. Ticklewickleukulele (talk) 01:50, 19 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would suggest that a huge number of inapt and incorrect "examples" have been added. I urgently suggest that sources be used for such, as this is now getting to be a very poor article on a fairly simple topic. Cheers. Collect (talk) 12:22, 19 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Loudly seconded. Even if this article simply becomes lists of examples (which it should not), at the least, all of these lists should be using a common format. A simple glance shows at least four and maybe five different ways of presenting examples. And, of course, are all of these examples necessary? Wouldn't two or three suffice?
--Trappist the monk (talk) 13:09, 19 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Collect, Why did you take down my edits? They were actually inspired by sites on the internet. You won't guess how manyMONTHS it took for me to get it right. Also, there isn't anything wrong with OR. Look at the wikipedia article for "euphemism", and then tell me there isnt any OR!!!! Ticklewickleukulele (talk) 04:10, 30 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See WP:V -- all claims in articles must be supportabe by reliable sources. Appropriate citations guarantee that the information is not original research, and allow readers and editors to check the source material for themselves. Collect (talk) 06:19, 30 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Understood. I wrote an essay on lists after you took down mine. WP:You should not write meaningless lists Edit it for me. (talk) 00:59, 31 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I removed all of the examples, since they're entirely original research and uncited, in addition to being highly subjective to the original editor (to the point of bordering failing WP:NPOV). What may seem "obvious" to you is not at all usually "obvious" to people outside of your immediate personal context. Nothing is considered valid in Wikipedia unless it's cited to a real, reliable secondary source. I left the rest of the uncited content since it doesn't appear to have a personal context. I'm going to look for some cited examples of dysphemism from Google Books, but if anybody finds any before me, please add them. Bravo Foxtrot (talk) 00:57, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's also worth mentioning that User:Ticklewickleukulele is indeed the primary editor for this article, as well as a repeatedly warned vandal, and is currently splitting his serious encyclopedic efforts between his magnum opus article, butt wiping, and this page. All things considered, I'm literally about 75% of the way to pushing this shitty excuse for a page through AfD. Any opinions? Bravo Foxtrot (talk) 01:08, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have stopped all vandalism long back. Vandalism was my original purpose for my account, but later, when I decided to edit Wikipedia, i just used this one since I already had it. Why do you assume everything on my talk page is current? Look on my edit log. There are plenty of good edits. Only one of them goes to that butt article. And it wasn't supposed to be vand. Also, check your talk page. Ticklewickleukulele (talk) 14:49, 13 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merge this article into "euphemism"[edit]

I read it over, and it would be better if it were merged rather than beingits own page. Ticklewickleukulele (talk) 00:33, 15 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And then seek WP:CONSENSUS for any such change. It is, however, rare to merge opposites into one article. Collect (talk) 00:42, 15 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. The new, longer article includes mostly profane terms. It sounds more like an article on profanity.
  2. All these terms seem to refer just to persons. Why not some simple dysphemisms, like referring to a cemetary as a boneyard, or calling the paper edition of a book a "tree carcass." Ticklewickleukulele (talk) 20:47, 2 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Homosexual Dysphemism" is already a "Type of Dysphemism"[edit]

"Homosexual Dysphemism" is already a "Type of Dysphemism." It doesn't need its own section.

Frankly speaking, I don't see how homosexual dysphemism is any different from the currently-extant "-ist" dyspehmism subsection; but since somebody obviously thinks homosexual dysphemism is more common than racist dysphemism, or perhaps is fundamentally different in nature and therefore more deserving of its own category, I will submit to prior judgment and maintain homosexual dysphemism's status as an entity independent and distinct from racist dysphemism. (Also, I think it's funny that no one mentioned sexism as a member of the "-ist" subsection heading...)

As an aside, I agree with whoever said this page should be merged into that for euphemism... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:33, 11 September 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since merged. -- Beland (talk) 06:36, 6 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"One kind of dysphemism is synecdochic, where a part is used to represent the whole,[1] such as 'He's a prick.' or 'What an asshole.'"

I take issue with those being legitimate examples of a synecdoche. The nouns in question are not being used in the sense of the actual body part, thus each cannot be said to represent the whole. Those words are generic insults; furthermore, it would be perfectly legitimate to describe a female as a "prick" if the behavior of that female "merited" the use of that insult. Similarly, to call someone female a "boob" does not automatically imply synecdoche.

The meaning of a word depends on its usage, and when that word is used "as slang", that invalidates any construable synecdoche IMHO. To support my claims, consider the sentence "She's a brain" when used to describe a very intelligent person.

In closing, the two examples I take issue with are easily replaced by better ones. There are several examples on the wiki for synecdoche; why weren't two of those used? The "hired hands" example is quite superior. (talk) 17:07, 29 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Types" list is a mess[edit]

The list of types of dysphemism reads like something from the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. It can't decide whether it's a list of origins of dysphemistic terms, targets, or contexts. (talk) 19:43, 27 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]