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To retire in this ironical passage is a euphemistic substitute for to go to bed.

Another lady, in Rain by the same author, easily surpasses Mrs. Sunbury in the delicacy of her speech. She says that there are so many mosquitoes on the island where the story is set that at the Governor's parties "all the ladies are given a pillow-slip to put their — their lower extremities in."

The speaker considers the word legs to be "indelicate" and substitutes for it its formal synonym lower extremities (cf. with the R. нижние конечности). The substitution makes her speech pretentious and ridiculous.

Eating is also regarded as unrefined by some minds. Hence such substitutes as to partake of food (of refreshment), to refresh oneself, to break bread.

There are words which are easy targets for euphemistic substitution. These include words associated with drunkenness, which are very numerous.

The adjective drunk, for instance, has a great number of such substitutes, some of them "delicate", but most comical. E. g. intoxicated (form.), under the influence (form.), tipsy, mellow, fresh, high, merry, flustered, overcome, full (coll.), drunk as a lord (coll.), drunk as an owl (coll.), boiled (sl.), fried (sl.), tanked (sl.), tight (sl.), stiff (sl.), pickled (sl.), soaked (sl.), three sheets to the wind (sl.), high as a kite (sl.), half-seas-over (sl.), etc.

The following brief quotation from P.G. Wodehouse gives two more examples of words belonging to the same group:

"Motty was under the surface. Completely sozzled."

(From Pight-Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse)

In the following extracts from P. G. Wodehouse we find slang substitutes for two other "unpleasant" words: prison and to imprison.


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