Q. When do I need to use English euphemisms?


In polite company, Americans will not speak directly of certain subjects, but will use euphemistic expressions to communicate. One such subject is death and instead of saying, “He died last week,” it seems less harsh to say, “He passed away last week.”

In addition to “death,” some Americans for religious reasons do not use the names “God” or “Jesus Christ” in ordinary conversation. However often you hear, “Oh, my God!” in movies, it is wise not to add that to your vocabulary. The same is of course true for cuss words like “shit,” “fuck,” and “damn.” Such words have no place in polite conversation and English speakers regularly use euphemisms to avoid such words, including “Gosh!” (“God!”), “Jeez!” (“Jesus!”), “darn” (“damn”), and “shoot” (“shit”).

A subject that is much more likely to arise is related to bodily functions. While it is not rude to ask, “Could you tell me where the toilet is?” it is less direct to use a euphemism for “toilet” such as “restroom” or “ladies’ (men’s) room” in a public place, and “bathroom” or “washroom” in a home, for example, “May I use your bathroom?”