English with Countdown's Arun Mathur
Carrigaline man Arun Mathur appeared on the British television game show, ‘Countdown’ in 2019 and at the time we at The Carrigdhoun Newpsaper ran an article on him which was hugely well received and very popular. Arun is a gentleman and speaking with him is always very enjoyable. He has kindly put together some fun and interesting articles for us on the fascinating variations in the English language.
Telling us about this work, Arun said, “During the lockdown, I did some research on Contronyms, Euphemisms, Homonyms and Homophones, Hyperboles and Oxymorons in the English language”.
We hope you enjoy.
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).
Here are some examples of oxymorons:
Single-Word & Compound-Word Oxymorons
Frenemy (friend + enemy)
Adjective + Noun
Adverb + Adjective/Adverb
Agree to disagree
Kill with kindness
Make haste slowly
A euphemism is a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing, for example, ‘downsizing’ is a euphemism for ‘cuts’.
Here are some examples of euphemisms:
Euphemisms For People
He’s big boned. — He’s fat.
She’s horizontally challenged. — She’s fat, too.
He’s vertically challenged. — He’s short.
She’s between jobs. — She’s unemployed.
She’s getting on. — She’s old.
He’s not the sharpest pencil in the box. — He’s kind of stupid. Not his fault — he just is.
He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. — He’s rude and can be pretty unkind.
She’s on the streets. — She’s homeless.
Euphemisms About Getting Fired
We’re going to have to let you go.
Have you considered early retirement? — only for older people
I’m afraid you’ve been made redundant. — This one isn’t as bad, as it means your job doesn’t exist anymore. You’ve probably been replaced by a computer.
Euphemisms about War!
Collateral damage – When an attack kills innocent people (or damages homes, hospitals, schools, etc.).
Armed intervention – This simply means “military attack.”
Extraordinary rendition – This is when an army takes someone away without going through any legal system.
Friendly fire – This is when an army kills people on its own side, usually by accident.
Euphemisms For Death
She’s passed on.
She’s passed away.
She’s met her maker.
We’ve lost her.
She’s been put to sleep/put down. — for describing when a pet has to be killed by the vet.
Euphemisms For “Bad”
It wasn’t up to scratch. — It wasn’t good enough.
It left a lot to be desired. — It was pretty bad and unsatisfying.
That was a questionable idea. — There are problems with this idea.
How was the trip? It was … — How was the trip? It wasn’t that good at all. Not terrible but not good.