strategic euphemizing

I’m thinking of instances when a group has made efforts to change the proper name or term for something in order to influence public perception about it– to get around the negative connotations of the original term.  Some examples I can think of:

creationism –> creation science –> intelligent design
global warming –> climate change
sewage sludge –> biosolids
GMO (genetically modified organism) –> GE (genetically engineered)

Help me out, I know there are a lot more.


3 thoughts on “strategic euphemizing

  1. Josh

    homosexuality -> gay
    atheist -> bright
    abortion -> termination procedure
    also, pro choice / pro life

    That’s all I can think of for the moment.

  2. Jesse

    With regard to climate change, you have had your chain yanked. It is often claimed that scientists changed their terminology from global warming to the euphemism of climate change, but that is untrue. The terminology has not changed at all. The term ‘global warming’ denotes only the rising average surface temperature of the Earth. It does not denote the consequences of the warming. Likewise, it does not denote global cooling or the consequences of the cooling. This is where the term ‘climate change’ comes in. It denotes not only global warming and global cooling, but also the consequences of both, as well as anything else that would constitute a change in the climate. In short, the term ‘climate change’ is a term with a wider range of applicability. To call ‘climate change’ a euphemism for ‘global warming’ is akin to calling ‘dog’ a euphemism for ‘poodle’.

  3. Lily Post author

    I agree with you Jesse, but the two terms have become part of the vernacular and are used by both environmental activists and anti-environment activists use whichever term suits them best without knowing the nuanced definitions.

    I was in a meeting with marine scientists talking about oceanographic climate change and the word game. They were saying that ‘climate change’ is already gaining negative connotations, so the oceanographic community should instead use ‘ocean acidification’. Well, of course ocean acidification is a vastly different concept from climate change. But even scientists who know the difference will play the word game if it helps educate people who might otherwise turn a deaf ear.


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