If a Euphemism Hall of Fame existed, it would easy to stock with preposterous evasions. After obvious candidates such as “extraordinary rendition” and “differently challenged” were inducted, I’d nominate some lesser-known nuggets of nonsense, like “Maximum Absorbency Garment” (MAG), a NASA-approved term that reared its poopy head in some stories about the would-be-kidnapper/astronaut-in-diapers scandal. I’m also a fan of “holistic practitioner,” which became a euphemism for “hooker” in Toronto a few years ago because of loopholes in the licensing of “holistic health centers” – many of which were just brothels. Then there’s the medical world’s “symmetry failure,” also called wrong-site surgery. The English translation is, “Doh! I just operated on the wrong side.”
But a whole wing of the Euphemism Hall of Fame could be devoted to pregnancy, a long-taboo subject that has generated enough weasel words and membrane-melting malarkey to keep a squadron of George Carlins busy for years.
“Baby bump” is the term of the moment, arising like a perky, anorexic sea monster from the oozy tabloid world of Bennifers, Brangelinas and baby daddies. Truth be told, “bump” is not a euphemism at all in the strictest sense: it’s a dysphemism, the honest-to-a-fault evil twin of the euphemism. Where euphemisms hide, dysphemisms expose: a good example is “brain bucket,” a pretty vivid term for a motorcycle helmet. Other dysphemisms are “muffin top” (flesh erupting over the sides of low-rider jeans) and “Jesus juice” (wine). “Baby bump” fits into that garish crowd very well, along with the ever-popular variations of pregnancy: “preggers,” “preggo” and “preggy” are well-established, while Googling terms up plenty of rarer coinages such as “preggish,” “pre-preggish,” “pregness,” “pregtastic,” “pregtacular,” “pregalicious,” “pregitude,” “preggery,” “preggage,” “non-preggage,” “pregosity,” “pregnosity,” “pregnasty,” “pregnacious” and “pregcellent.”
Though I’m a fan of “pregcellent” – finally, I have a rhyme for “eggcellent” in that Ode to Omelettes I’ve been working on – these words are about as clever as a box of rocks. For greater creativity and truly diabolical doublespeak, we have to look elsewhere: to some archaic, obscure, or non-American terms that are all likely to freshen up your vocabulary the next time you or yours are bagged, bellied, bound, caught, clicked, enwombed, full, heavy, knit, storked or teeming. More on all these terms can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, the Bible of the English language, only with fewer immaculate conceptions and seven-headed beasts.