Euphemisms – substituting a positive description for a negative one – have been a device used by marketing and advertising writers forever. For example, apartment ads that can only promise that it is “clean and sunny” are a sure sign that the place is cramped and drafty with a fresh coat of paint. If it says “in an up-and-coming neighborhood,” you know it’s a dump in a dumpy area.

Corporate writers will try to soften the blow for shareholders by talking about a “challenging” year, when “disastrous” might be a more apt description. Marketing writers will look for ways to turn a perceived negative into a positive. Some politicians and scam artist will say anything short of an out-and-out lie.

Lately doublespeak has become a universal language, so we thought we’d provide a brief glossary of what the terms really mean.

In Other Words