Friday 10 August 2018

Euphemisms in Quotes 12

Prince Philip “has a reputation for plain speaking”.  (BBC)
The new names for the old disorders.
(Margery Allingham, Police at the Funeral)

"There’s a lot to unpack here” is the academic equivalent of “yikes”. (paper bag @eggsandbread)

The markets are displaying "full-blown nervousness". (Feb 2018, markets are falling.)

Marks and Spencer to close 100-plus stores by 2022 in “radical” plan.

To perform a con trick that insults the people on the receiving end.
(Rob Cowan‏ @cowanrob)

It is a disturbing new fashion to describe people’s reasonable fears as “paranoia” or “phobia”. (@CelineDayJardnz)

"Independent" is the new word for "extremely opaquely-funded". (@mrdavidwhitley)

I used to describe him as exciting and dynamic, but now I feel flaky and selfish fits more.

‘The Secretary of State may remove the school from the Register of Independent Schools’. In DfE speak, this means shut the place down.
(Spectator Aug 2018)

Categorizing hate literature as “sensationalism” and “unsubstantiated rumors” is a deception.
(Liam Hogan‏ @Limerick1914)

States don’t set high expectations for teaching about slavery. “In a word, the standards are timid,” the report stated. (

Several friends are unfortunate enough to have MBAs, aka degrees in corporate pussyfooting. As far as I can see, one spends two years learning phrases such as: “He may have the odd skills gap”, translation: “He can’t do the job.”... “We’re going to have to sunset this project” [means] “It failed”. For all the stunted yobbishness of Alan Sugar’s “You’re fired!”, at least its recipients know what has happened. Less so those on the receiving end of “decruitment”, “rationalization”, “imbalance correction” or “negotiated departure”. (Times 2018)

On the up, 'influencer', 'chief operating officer'. Guessing that replaces 'promoter' and 'manager' respectively, but I could be wrong. (@BrynleyHeaven)

John Minton... was mocked for his “parochial and constrained draughtsmanship” — ie he could draw. (Times 2018)

"For how long will the rage of despots be called justice, and the people’s justice be called barbarity or rebellion?" (Robespierre)

Snowflake? Yes, I’ve heard this word. I think sociopaths use it in an attempt to discredit the notion of empathy. (John Cleese)

London’s skyline is set for a revamp. (City A.M. More skyscrapers. And I dread to think what "transforming Oxford Street" means. As a first step, Transport for London have cut half the bus services.)

When does a thorough investigation into wrongdoings [get] referred to as a "co-ordinated witch-hunt"? Possibly when you have something to hide? (@BremainInSpain)

Thus far seen Paul Dacre described as
- Outspoken
- Controversial
- Fiery
- Passionate
- Traditional
- No-nonsense

It's weird how many alternatives there are to 'raging bigot' when the subject's a powerful rich old white guy.
(Dean Burnett @garwboy)

"We aren't selling a product, we're telling our story." Yeah, well you can finish the story after you put my purchase in a bag there, O. Henry. (@Mededitor)

Reminder: "neoliberal" used in an opinion piece means "stuff I don't like". (Mark Hogan @markasaurus)

 Layman's Lessons in Translating the News: "Provocateur" = A**hole
"Controversial" = A**hole
"Polarizing" = A**hole
(Julie Lynn @bellafortunate)

Your Twitter biog says you’re an “independent, interdisciplinary scholar”, which means basically you have an idée fixe and an internet connection. (Oliver Kamm)

Weird how often 'I'm a free thinker' ends up just meaning 'I have a bunch of really basic conservative opinions which I don't think you should be mean to me about'. (@RopesToInfinity)

I once attended a workshop led by a FBI hostage negotiator about negotiating and his BIG SECRET was "tactical empathy" aka regular empathy but For Men and anyways I still think about that a lot. (Ronnie @rondoftw)

First, the candidate for bishop must be a ‘team player’. This is Anglican-speak for ‘yes man’ (or woman). Second, he or she must be a ‘focus for unity’. Translated into English, this means he or she mustn’t believe anything too strongly. (

Teen stabbed with scissors after pulling student’s dress up at Memphis school, police say. (Fox headline)
That’s a weird way to say “Sexual assault victim uses self-defense to escape her attacker”. (Twitter comment)

I always assume, thanks to bitter experience, when someone says “well spoken” they mean “not northern” or slightly obsequious... You give some anodyne statement like “She had a lot to say for herself”, or “She seemed really comfortable in her own skin” or something. Just a nothing statement, a verbal day without weather. (

The phrase in the biography by Janet Morgan is "helped by her secretary", but unfortunately in publishing world it has only one meaning... particularly if the quality is very uneven.
(IL on Agatha Christie’s late works)

Dame Athene Donald stated “that the university’s social media guidelines are ‘recommended guidelines and not rules’,” and that “‘nothing should be done to enforce them.’” ( April 2018)

The recently deceased professor once produced an illustrated guide to disco dancing, and had “an 18th century attitude to drink”.
Ahhh, I see, so ‘limited political insight’ does, in fact, mean you don’t agree with him on some things. (@pdsmith74)

Tech buzzwords explained:
Big data: data
Blockchain: database
Algorithm: automated decision-making
Cloud: Internet
Viral: popular

Some people use "big data" to mean something like "large-scale, fine-grained data about people that can be used to make harmful inferences about them."
(Arvind Narayanan @random_walker)

Cloud: someone else’s computer. (@AMShea)

It’s not gentrification. It’s becoming a more balanced community.
(Property Developer in the Guardian. He explains that a “balanced community” means your property’s value will rise, not fall.)

The clever thing rich right-wing people are doing everywhere is changing the meaning of the word 'elite' to 'educated people of any income or background who interfere with our vested interests'. (@matthaig1)

I've just used "inappropriate" correctly, but it has been ruined by people who use it as a euphemism for "I want to say 'wrong' or 'immoral', but I am weak-minded relativist". (Damian Counsell @DamCou)

I wonder how they describe people who don't qualify as 'pleasant? Do they just omit the word, or do they substitute another, like 'assertive', 'forceful', 'eloquent', 'determined'? (WUR ponders doctors’ letters.)

Stormzy has been utterly co-opted by the chattering class. He’s now a Guardian editorial made flesh. His every utterance conforms to their drab, elitist worldview. Grime needs a new, more genuine voice. (Brendan O’Neill of Spiked)

Chattering class: lefties.
Drab, elitist: lefty.
New, more genuine: screamingly right-wing.

Theresa May wants to reintroduce “a sense of fairness” to the student loan system. Does she mean “make it more fair”? Or “make it seem more fair”? (Feb 2018)

Are you always this confrontational? Try anger management! (via Twitter. Translation: I seem to have lost the argument.)

"We don’t know what the rules are” is always, always code for “your rules don’t matter to me”. (Charlotte Lydia Riley @lottelydia)

Now that my retirement is coming up, she has been making noises about “Grandma bonding with the grandbabies,” meaning they want to stop paying for their expensive day care by making me do it for free. (

I invested in @VirginCare to help transform the NHS for the better and to improve patient and employee experience. (Richard Branson. He means “privatization”.)

Toby Young tweeted about w**king over pictures of starving children. Twitter objected.

God, tweeple today, you're a nasty bunch of moral fascists with no belief in redemption, shades of grey, irony or forgiveness! (Libby Purves)

Toby Young is “edgy” and “gauche”. (Andrew Lilico)

I would always stand up for women but I don’t want women’s rights and all that sort of thing.
(Mary Berry)

You know, it's almost like there's a different standard for the white guy that "speaks his mind," and for women, who are immediately labelled "vulgar" and "insulting."

Remember: when Americans wear silk dresses it's cultural appropriation, when people in other countries wear Levis it's American cultural imperialism. (David Burge @iowahawkblog)

“Earnest” is one of those words which may appear at first sight gender neutral but aren’t. Like ‘ambitious’ ... generally good when referring to man, bad when referring to woman. “Earnest” is a pat on the back for trying hard. (Mary Beard)

And have you noticed that Corbyn supporters are a ‘cult’ but Tories who are ride or die for the PM are loyalists or traditionalists or just, you know, Tories. (Mic Wright ‏@brokenbottleboy)

More here, and links to the rest.

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