It is eminently fitting that the Greeks who gave us their word for “speaking fair” should also have supplied us with the ultimate exemplification of its use. They were wont to refer to the Furies, a group of avenging goddesses, as the Eumenides or “The Fair Ones.” Since the Furies were imagined as having a batlike shape which was adorned with a profusion of snakish hair, they were not fair at all, but rather terrifying, intimidating in the highest degree. To euphemize a phenomenon is to call it something other than what it most particularly is, anything at all provided the new designation is gentler, milder, less offensive, less threatening. It is even possible, as in the case of the Furies renamed Fair Ones, to effect a 180‐degree reversal of meaning.
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1992, MCB UP Limited