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Cẩn thận với lối “nói phũ” – dysphemism

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Definition of Dysphemism

Dysphemism is originated from a Greek word “dys” means miss or none and “pheme” means reputation or speech. It is a figure of speech which is defined as the use of disparaging or offensive expressions instead of inoffensive ones. Dysphemism is the use of negative expressions instead of positive ones. A speaker uses them to humiliate or degrade the disapproved person or character. Dysphemism examples may be classified according to the following types.

See more below:

Types of Dysphemism


It is used to describe something as a whole like, “she is a prick.”

Dysphemistic Epithets

Animal names are used, like “pig, bitch, rat, dog or snake”.

Euphemistic Dysphemism

This is when a soft expression is used without offending.

Dysphemistic Euphemism

It is used as a mockery between close friends without any animosity.

“-ist” dysphemism

Targeted at a particular ethnicity.

Homosexual Dysphemism

These terms are used regarding homosexuality like, “gay, faggot and queer”

Name Dysphemism

It is used when someone is called by his name rather than by using his proper title such as “How are you Bill?” (Instead of Uncle Bill)

Non-verbal Dysphemism

It is used when offending someone with gestures.

Cross-cultural Dysphemism

Different slang terms are used as dysphemistic in one culture; on the other hand, they might have a totally different meaning in other cultures. For instance, “fag” is a slur used for gay man in American English, whereas, in British English it used for a cigarette.

Use with caution

Because of the variable connotations among dysphemisms, writers should take care when considering whether to use them. Such terms are unlikely to appear in formal writing, but they may show up in more casual prose, especially in opinionated comments. An accountant might, in jest, refer to himself as a bean counter, but the connotation is of an excessively meticulous person unable to focus on anything other than saving money, and the term is generally offensive. An attorney, on the other hand, would never call herself a shyster, even in a moment of levity, and the word is provocative.

“City slicker”? I’m a relative newcomer to a rural area from a metropolitan one, and I might jokingly self-identify as such, but for anyone else who might think of calling me that, as the (mis)quote from a Gary Cooper movie goes, “Mister, smile when you call me that.” The same policy applies to tree-hugger orredneckbookworm or “frat boy,” “pencil pusher” or “talking head”: Use with caution.


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