Words & Phrases That Make Me Nervous



I think we use words and phrases to mask  or smooth out things we don’t want to be direct about or, don’t want to think about the implications of.

Here are some of my translations of terms or phrases readily accepted as truth that might have significant implications if we just sort of gave them some thought

  • Back bencher:  I’ve heard it used in politics to imply an elected person is not on the 1st team. At the federal level it implies not having power even though they are called Senator or Congressman.  Does that mean that someone who’s the Senator from say Idaho or Wyoming isn’t worthy of the position or doesn’t have anything to add to the public discourse?
  • Persons of interest: sounds like a justification to cast a wide net for suspicious persons especially if they’re not Caucasians.
  • This chapter of his life is closed.: Translation:  Dead.  But God forbid we say it.
  • The battlefield is a dangerous place to work: terminology justifying going to war and the people who are sent off to war that has never declared.
  • Impoverished by events:  easy slick terminology to speak about poor, homeless, economically deprived, minority groups, seniors, children.  Once categorized we’ve pretty much completed our obligation to help.
  • Food Insecurity: an antiseptic way to say your hungry, starving, don’t have enough to eat, or malnourished.  We feel bad about it.  See above, Impoverished by events. 
  • Morally Pervasive: no moral or ethical rudder; keeping people with power from looking out for your fellow man. Think today’s politicians
  • Collateral Damage: being in the wrong place at the wrong time as a result of political decisions that are in the best interest of countries power elite. Think Donald Rumsfeld and Madeline Albright
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:  plain and simple is a slick phrase that means torture and is against the Geneva conventions on war crimes.



One Response to “Words & Phrases That Make Me Nervous”

  1. bobritzema Says:

    I see “persons of interest” as less a euphemism than a way to avoid calling someone a “suspect,” because once I use the latter term I may be on the hook to explain why I suspect them of something. Thus, it’s not so much obfuscation as it is self-protection. I’m not sure how I feel about “food insecurity.” It could be a euphemism for “starving.” Then again, it might also be a useful extension of terms like starving or malnourished to cover those who are on the same continuum. I think such an extension is useful; helping us recognize that many individuals and familes are just one paycheck or a few handouts away from grossly inadequate nutrition.

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