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A Dictionary of Euphemisms (Oxford Paperback Reference)
by R. W. Holder
ISBN 0192800515 / 9780192800510 / 0-19-280051-5
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
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Language is more frequently used to disguise or temper what one means to say rather than telling it like it is, at least that's how it seems when looking through the 5,000 or so euphemisms compiled by R.W. Holder. There are colorful phrases ("bury a quaker" for defecate, "buy a brewery" for become an alcoholic), slang terms ("crib" for brothel), and terms that obfuscate a negative reality (saying "convivial" when meaning habitually drunken or "corrective training" for political imprisonment). Useful for writers, linguists, and students of human behavior, the euphemisms are arranged alphabetically, but cross-indexed thematically. So if you want to know what "foul ane" means, you can look it up directly and find it's a Scottish reference to the devil, but if you're looking for a juicy alternative for "death," the index provides "cop a packet," "suck daisy roots," and "come home feet first." Serving as both a dictionary and a comprehensive thesaurus of idioms, it's a useful as well as entertaining semantic resource. --Stephanie Gold [via]