Avoid Euphemisms in Your Writing

When I taught writing classes at a local college, I kept underscoring the importance of writing in active voice because readers prefer it. I’d also tell my students that government, academia, and business writing are all typically written in passive voice. Then I’d challenge them to remember the last time they stood in line to get a highly desired copy of the most recent tax code or company policy on something. As I saw the smiles appear on my students’ faces, I knew they understood.

Another thing organizations that prefer passive voice use is euphemisms. Here are some examples.

  • Temporarily displaced inventory means stolen goods.
  • Thermal therapy kit means bag of ice cubes.
  • Substantive negative outcome means failed.
  • Reutilization marketing location means junkyard.
  • Negative gain in test scores means lower test scores.
  • Synthetic glass means plastic.
  • Suffers from fictitious disorder syndrome means lies.
  • Vegetarian leather means vinyl.

I expect some of these examples brought a smile to your face. But my point is to encourage you to write clearly so your reader can follow you and get your point rather to entertain you. I hope these examples help you see the importance of writing succinctly and clearly.

Happy writing!


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