Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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euphemisms, Hebrew Bible, dysphemisms, Old Testament


All of us are familiar with puns, wordplays, and the fun such word games provide. Euphemisms, where an objectionable word is replaced by a less objectionable one, are a practical and sometimes amusing aspect of these word games. For example, in the nineteenth century and extending into the twentieth century, the word pregnant seems not to have been common in polite conversation. Instead, euphemisms such as “with child” or “in a family way” were used. I can remember my mother, in hushed conversations, rather than saying “pregnant,” would quietly declare, “She is PG.” This may explain why the large, white block letter on the mountain (a common occurrence in intermountain western states) above the city of Pleasant Grove, Utah, is simply “G” and not “PG.”