Euphemisms become cynical when used to cover or conceal the misappropriation of funds, illegal behavior and unethical activities. Companies don’t fire people. They “let them go” or place them on “administrative leave.” Nor do companies engage in layoffs. Rather, they “downsize” or conduct “involuntary separations.”
Politicians employ euphemisms in the “gentle sell” to sway their audience and to endear them to voters. Consider the “Affordable Care Act.” Federal, state and local governments give euphemisms a bad name when they use language to obfuscate. As master craftsmen of euphemisms, government agencies tend to grind out verbal inversions of exquisite quality.
English is a rich and versatile language. Recognizing euphemisms can be fun. Understanding euphemisms may protect us from deceit.