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way, by using substitutes called euphemisms. This device is dictated by social conventions which are sometimes apt to be over-sensitive, see "indecency" where there is none and seek refinement in absurd avoidances and pretentiousness.

The word lavatory has, naturally, produced many euphemisms. Here are some of them: powder room, washroom, restroom, retiring room, (public) comfort station, ladies' (room), gentlemen's (room), water-closet, w.c. ([d0blju:'si:]), public conveniences and even Windsor castle (which is a comical phrase for "deciphering" w.c.).

Pregnancy is another topic for "delicate" references. Here are some of the euphemisms used as substitutes for the adjective pregnant: in an interesting condition, in a delicate condition, in the family way, with a baby coming, (big) with child, expecting.

The apparently innocent word trousers, not so long ago, had a great number of euphemistic equivalents, some of them quite funny: unmentionables, inexpressibles, indescribables, unwhisperables, you-mustn't-men-tion 'ems, sit-upons. Nowadays, however, nobody seems to regard this word as "indecent" any more, and so its euphemistic substitutes are no longer in use.

A landlady who refers to her lodgers as paying guests is also using a euphemism, aiming at half-concealing the embarrassing fact that she lets rooms.

The love of affectation, which displays itself in the excessive use of euphemisms, has never been a sign of good taste or genuine refinement. Quite the opposite. Fiction writers have often ridiculed pretentious people for their weak attempts to express themselves in a delicate and refined way.

"... Mrs. Sunbury never went to bed, she retired, but Mr. Sunbury who was not quite so refined as his wife always said: "Me for Bedford" ..."

(From The Kite by W. S. Maugham) 211

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