• Tác giả Bilingo Học tiếng anh online 2

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Today’s lesson is about euphemisms. Euphemisms are indirect or vague expressions that are often used instead of words or phrases that are thought to be offensive or too direct.

Most euphemisms are in topic areas that could be offensive if talked about too directly, such as love and sex, bodily functions, death, and mental capacity. These expressions are common in spoken English, so here are a number of euphemisms organized by category.

Love & Sex

bat for the other team = to be homosexual : NGƯỜI ĐỒNG TÍNH

Let’s say you have a coworker who you’ve known for 5 years, but you’ve never seen him with a girlfriend, and you suspect he might be homosexual. To express this, you can say, “I’m wondering if he bats for the other team.”

is in the family way / has a bun in the oven / is expecting = pregnant : MANG THAI

The first two expressions are usually used about other people – for example, “It looks like Christina has a bun in the oven.” The third expression, “expecting,” can be used about other people or about yourself – for example, “My husband and I are expecting our third child this October.”

hook up with / sleep with / make love = have sex with : LÀM TÌNH VỚI AI

In these expressions, “hook up with” is the most casual. “Sleep with” is neutral, and “make love” usually implies romance or a committed relationship. “Hooking up with someone” is what you do after a party or a night out at the club, whereas “making love” is what you do with your husband or wife. The expression “sleep around” means that someone has sex with many different people.

adult entertainment / gentlemen’s club : THÚ VUI GIẢI TRÍ DÀNH CHO NGƯỜI LỚN

“Adult entertainment” or an “adult movie” is a form of entertainment that involves nudity or sex. A “gentleman’s club” is a euphemism for a “strip club” – this is a nightclub or bar where women dance in a sensual way and take off their clothes. The women in these clubs are often called “exotic dancers” instead of the more direct word (“strippers”).

Body & Bodily Functions

has a face only a mother could love = ugly : KHUÔN MẶT XẤU

Mothers are known for loving their children regardless of their physical appearanc – so “a face only a mother could love” is a face that is so ugly that nobody (except the person’s mother) would think it beautiful. This phrase is pretty strong, and it’s not appropriate to say it about yourself or a friend!

big-boned / full-figured / husky / chubby = fat : MẬP

Usually, “full-figured” is used for women and “husky” is used for men. “Big-boned” can be used for either women or men, and “chubby” is typically used for children. You can also say that someone “has a few extra pounds.” Clothing for fat people is often called “plus-sized” clothing.

getting a little thin on top = losing your hair, becoming bald : SẮP BỊ HÓI ĐẦU

We use this expression to describe when someone begins to lose their hair due to the natural process of getting older (it is not used when a person cuts all their hair off or loses it because of a disease). We can also say someone’s hair is “going gray” as it begins to change color to gray as they age.

break wind / cut the cheese / let one rip = pass gas (fart) : ĐI NẶNG 

For example, if you walk into a room and it smells terrible, like someone recently released intestinal gas, you could say, “Ugh, it stinks in here! Who cut the cheese?” call of nature / use the restroom = go to the bathroom “Call of nature” is more informal, and “use the restroom” is more formal. Among
friends, you could say, “Excuse me for a minute – call of nature.” In a more professional context, it would be better to say, “Excuse me for a minute – I need to use the restroom.”

throw up / lose your lunch / toss your cookies = vomit : NÔN , ÓI MỬA

There are many, many euphemisms for vomiting, but the most common is “throw up.” For example, “I felt sick on the plane and threw up all over the person sitting next to me.”

Work, Finance, & Law

low-income = poor : THU NHẬP THẤP

This euphemism aims to give more dignity to people who don’t have much money, because being “poor” is considered very bad. “Low-income” sounds more respectful.
For example, “The government is providing some benefits for low-income families.”

stretch the truth / economical with the truth = exaggerating / lying

These phrases are diplomatic ways to say that somebody exaggerates or lies. For example, “I wouldn’t go into business with John. He tends to be economical with the truth.”

downsize / let go / lay off = fire (make an employee lose his/her job)

To “downsize” is to reduce the size of something – so if a company is “downsizing,” it means that it is reducing the number of employees. The phrases “let go” and “lay off” are often used in the passive voice to talk about the employee who lost his/her job – for example, “I was laid off six months ago,” or “I heard that 30 people are going to be let go in the near future.” One euphemism for being unemployed is to say that a person is currently “between jobs.”

doing time = spending time in prison : DÀNH THỜI GIAN TRONG TÙ

We often say “doing time for ________” and then add the name of the crime, for example, “doing time for theft” or “doing time for murder.” There is also a euphemism for prisons or jails – they are called “correctional facilities.” ( NHÀ TÙ )

Mental Capacity

slow / not the sharpest tool in the shed / not the sharpest knife in the drawer / not the brightest crayon in the box / a few bricks short of a load / a few cards short of a deck : KHÔNG ĐƯỢC BÌNH THƯỜNG ( BỊ KHÙNG )

All of these euphemisms mean that somebody is stupid. For example, “I had to explain the problem three times before he finally understood – he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.”

lost his marbles / has a few screws loose = crazy, insane : BỊ THIỂU NĂNG TRÍ TUỆ

If a machine has a few screws loose, then it doesn’t function correctly. In the same way, the euphemism “has a few screws loose” is used to describe a person whose mind isn’t functioning correctly. For example, “My aunt believes her children are all aliens – she has a few screws loose.

Note: These phrases are only to be used when you are talking about someone of normal mental capacity, but who you want to insult. To talk about a person with a real mental disability, it’s common to say “He/she has a mental disorder” or to say the name of the disorder – “He has Down Syndrome” or “She has autism.”

Aging & Death

senior citizens / elderly people = old people : NGƯỜI GIÀ

In English, it’s much more common to say “senior citizen” instead of “old person.” For example, “My grandmother lives in an apartment complex for senior citizens.”

put (an animal) to sleep / put (an animal) down : TIÊM TRỢ TỬ ( LÀM CHO ĐỘNG VẬT RA ĐI THANH THẢN )

These euphemisms are used to describe the act of killing an old or sick animal with an injection, so that it dies quickly and does not suffer. For example, “Our cat was 14 years old, and when she got cancer, we decided to put her to sleep.”

pass away = die : QUA ĐỜI

The expression “pass away” is a sensitive way to talk about death. For example, “My uncle passed away last year.” The verb “lost” is also used to refer to someone dying: “My co-worker just lost her grandmother.” The adjective “late” can be used to describe someone who is dead: “The late Michael Jackson was one of the most famous singers of all time.”

“Pass away” is the most common euphemism for death that is respectful. There are a number of euphemisms about death that are more flippant (that is, NOT respectful) – these are usually used when talking about death in general, or in the context of humor – do NOT use them when there is someone who is sad about a death.

These lighter, more humorous idioms for death include:

  •  meet your maker / kick the bucket / bite the dust = die
  •  six feet under / pushing up daisies = dead

You’ve finished Lesson 33! It’s important to put these euphemisms in context, so definitely take the quiz to make sure you can use each phrase in the correct sentence. There’s also a list of additional euphemisms at the end of this lesson, for study and reference.

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