Euphemistically Speaking

When I was growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, there was an area, about half a mile downtown from me, known as "The Bowery." One of the most elegant areas of the city during the 1800s, by 1900, the Bowery devolved into low-rent concert halls, flop houses, beer gardens, brothels and streets that became the living quarters for hundreds of people with no visible means of support. These days, people in those circumstances are called "homeless" or "temporarily unsheltered." In those days they were known as Bowery Bums. The word, bum, simply refers to someone who refuses to work and tries to live off of others. Those who either chose, or were thrust into such penury, were also called beggars and tramps. Such references were made during a time in our history when euphemisms were rare.  Today, there are euphemisms for just about every activity that, if given the specific title, would be deemed offensive to civil discourse, also known as polite...(Read Full Article)

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