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Last updated at 17:09 BST, Monday, 09 May 2011

Reading between the lines

A speaker and a person reading a newspaper

Do public figures sometimes hide the truth?


We've been looking at the subject of press freedom. When politicians and other public figures are being interviewed by journalists they often have to use a special way of speaking to hide the full truth. A word or phrase used to avoid saying something unpleasant is called a euphemism. If you want to understand what someone who uses a euphemism really means, you have to read between the lines.

See if you can read between the lines with these examples below. Try matching the euphemism on the left with the correct definition on the right.

Word Matching Quiz

Look at the words on the left, click on the arrow, drag the arrow to the best match on the right. Click on 'check' to see if you are correct. If you were wrong, click on 'try again'.

Your Comments

Do public figures in your country use euphemisms? We asked you to email us. This topic is now closed.


Anton, from Italy:
Oh yes, they do. Politicians are very economical with the truth and inconsistent most of the time unfortunately though journalists use load of euphemisms too. They seem so stereotyped that people end up paying no attention to what is really happening. Certainly they don't help getting to the bottom of things. And many of these result in a contradiction of terms like the one I've heard on the telly "We want to set a date to end the conflict in Libya" (btw, I am against that conflict).

Barbara, from Greece:
When a politician says "we don't increase the percentage of the Value Added Tax - VAT" that means the increase is coming soon, it is round the corner.

Kirsti, from France:
When a politician says he will go on "investing in nuclear plants", it's a way of saying he is resolutely in favour of nuclear power.

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