What is Dysphemism Characteristics social function and Examples


In literature, dysphemism is a rhetorical figure whose objective is to use phrases or words intentionally.

In order to describe a situation or person in an offensive or denigrating way , replacing those that are more appropriate according to the situation or context. Sometimes it is used in the form of mockery and humor .

Characteristics of dysphemism

  • It is the opposite of euphemism .
  • It is a linguistic phenomenon.
  • It is also known as cacophemism, counter-euphemism and anti-euphemism.
  • It is derogatory.
  • Of metaphorical origin.

Dysphemisms and their social function

The use of profane vocabularies or inappropriate expressions has been increasing in a large part of the communication environment. Therefore, for young people this way of speaking has a social function.

In this sense, the use of dysphemisms in this part of the population of any region or social stratum, will allow them to favor their stay within a group. And therefore, develop brotherly bonds.

Psychology, for its part, suggests that young people use this type of vocabularies as a way of countering the refusals that are infringed by adults.

On the other hand, sexual language also has a breaking point in terms of the use of dysphemisms . Since, this is used to give more modern connotations to terms that for many are taboo.

Differences between euphemism and dysphemism

As we said, the difference between euphemism and dysphemism is that one is contrary to the other. While the euphemism tries to avoid a word or expression that is considered taboo, the dysphemism travels in the opposite direction, trying to find a more aggressive expression than any other.

Not that one works with the other. That is, a euphemism is not always a euphemism for a dysphemism. For example, dinarla could be considered the dysphemism of dying , since it seeks a more pejorative or less serious effect than its synonym. But, nevertheless, that does not mean that dying was the euphemism for the other, that is, dying her . In fact, to die has its own euphemism, which would be to pass away , since it carries softer connotations and is usually used in more delicate contexts.

Therefore, we must underline that, broadly speaking, a euphemism and a dysphemism travel in opposite directions, seeking a totally opposite effect in the communicative situation or conversation. That is why we say that euphemisms are the opposite of dysphemisms, and of course, dysphemisms are the opposite of euphemisms.

Examples of dysphemism

  1. Tail, rear, pompis : buttocks.
  2. Hang up your tennis shoes, hang up your boots, go to the country of the bedridden, kick the bucket, get petateo : die.
  3. Junk food, cold bullet : fast food.
  4. Nutty, Wire Stripper, Toasted : Crazy.
  5. Viejete, viejo, curro : old man.
  6. To walk naked, to walk in underwear : to be naked.
  7. Cuckold, deer : people to whom they are unfaithful.
  8. The coconut, the testa, the roof : the head.
  9. The muzzle, the snout, the snouts : the mouth.
  10. Bad hair, colocho, chicha hair : person with very curly hair.
  11. Tarugo, bobalicón, menso, toche : person who is considered stupid.
  12. Four eyes, four seeds : a person who wears glasses.
  13. Gangster, thug : skilled and bad person.
  14. Tuki, rabble : person with low resources and a bad life.

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