Like NyQuil, a good euphemism can quiet the mind, induce sleep, and stop you from coughing up unpleasant things, like truth or phlegm.
Unlike NyQuil, not all euphemisms are available in local drug stores. For the fine euphemism connoisseur, I hope you'll enjoy these lesser-known dances around the truth — their lexical jigs may be unfamiliar, but their style is unmistakable, in this land of purple majesties, low-information voters, and rhetorical flourishes.
Last night, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
held its fifth annual Spelling Bee in support of its non-profit efforts to help out independent literary publishers. The CLMP always attracts an all-star cast of spellers from the New York book world. This time around, the Visual Thesaurus joined forces with the CLMP Bee, supplying the words to stump the cream of the literary crop.
A small pronunciation incident in the Lounge recently has driven us down the path of reflection on the need for an easygoing approach to the way other people talk.
In the home stretch of the presidential campaign trail, John McCain has been saying that his opponent Barack Obama is so sure that he's bound for the White House that he's already "measuring the drapes." It's a durable political expression, though very often it's said as "measuring for
drapes" (which makes a bit more sense), and sometimes it's curtains
that get presumptuously measured (for), rather than drapes
. What's the difference, anyway?
Today's question for Mailbag Friday comes from our own puzzlemaster, Brendan Emmett Quigley, who's been watching a lot of football. "What gives with all these sportscasters saying 'Team A out-physicaled Team B'? Physical, last time I checked, is an adjective and not a verb, right?"
Brendan's question reminds me of a saying attributed to the great philosopher Calvin (the one from "Calvin and Hobbes," of course): "Verbing weirds language