Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Which expression do you prefer — ‘adult diaper’ or ‘adult incontinence product’?

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I’m not asking which you prefer to USE, of course, but which you prefer to read or see in print — adult diaper or adult incontinence product.

What we’re talking about here, in writing terms, is the use of a euphemism — which one online source defines as: “Substitution of a delicate or inoffensive term or phrase for one that has coarse, sordid, or otherwise unpleasant associations, as in the use of ‘lavatory’ or ‘rest room’ for ‘toilet,’ and ‘pass away’ for ‘die.’ ”

We ought to be aware of euphemisms and use them appropriately in our writing. But we ought also, for the cause of honesty and direct writing, be aware of euphemisms run amok. In my thinking, “adult incontinence product” for “adult diaper” is close to being a runaway euphemism. Why do we find “adult diaper” objectionable — or do we? Must all references to human biological processes be considered “crude” or “rude” and be replaced by euphemisms? Why??

Enough of my editorializing, how do you feel about using or not using euphemisms? The standards certainly are very subjective, varying from place to place and social setting to social setting. What are your guidelines for using euphemisms or not using euphemisms in your writing? Share with us, please.
[tags]euphemisms, active writing, direct writing, English usage, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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