Carnagle: By "liberate", you mean "liquidate"?
When death or impending death is referred to only in code words, which becomes chilling when the audience realizes what they are referring to. Usually used by sinister conspiracies, powerful gangsters, Dystopian bureaucrats (see also Double Speak), genocidal maniacs, Paths of Inspiration, or Scary Dogmatic Aliens. Occasionally also invoked by "good guy" operations, too (spy agencies, etc.) but less frequently.
In some cases, such as with a sick dog needing to be euthanized or a vicious sentient drawing about to be defeated, the words 'destroyed' or 'erased' may be used, not as a euphemism, but rather because the word 'killed' is insufficient. Usually refers to those who have suffered a Fate Worse than Death, or an individual who has been killed and wiped from all records. Or they just don't acknowledge them as people to begin with.
This is similar to Never Say "Die", but isn't associated with censorship; violent deaths will be shown, or someone will explain the real meaning of the euphemism (that is, if it's necessary to do so, since in most cases the speaker will use a tone of voice that makes it clear). It's also the supertrope of Trouble Entendre and Released to Elsewhere. These terms are particularly susceptible to the euphemism treadmill; as people forget that terms like "execute" and "liquidate" were ever euphemisms in the first place, they need to come up with more and more baroque ways of talking around the subject.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- Invoked in Baccano!: When the Russo family boss is fed up with a small time business double dealing him one too many times, he suggests his nephew, the Axe-Crazy hitman Ladd, to go have a "chat" with them. Even Ladd is gleefully aware that if he's sent anywhere, it's only to kill people, but his uncle reiterates that all he's suggesting Ladd to do is go over and "talk" to them.
- Black Butler: In the anime, the main villain desires to "purify" humans of their sins (i.e., kill or brainwash them into an Empty Shell), and often repeats the following Madness Mantra:
- Used at the beginning of Code Geass when Prince Clovis orders a "planned urban renewal" of the slums in Shinjuku to rid the area of any stragglers in their search for Lelouch and C.C.
- In Death Note Kira frequently uses euphemisms such as "tonight's judgments," "punishments," or "cleansing the world" for mass killings of criminals. When Teru Mikami takes up the mantle he tends to use the term "delete", emphasizing just how meaningless human life really is to him.
- For such a Magnificent Bastard, you'd think Fushigi Yuugi's Nakago would say "You will die" to his last enemy. But no, he tells Miaka, "Neither of you will exist in either world." (Never you mind who the other person referred to is.)
- In Heavy Object the Stalk Killer Unit specializes in transporting "paint" to the battlefield. Said paint is used to disguise the thousands of illegal landmines they spread to delay pursuers.
- In Plastic Memories, Giftias are being "retrieved". This boils down a form of euthanasia, after which their bodies are sent back to their manufacturer for reuse.
- Saint Young Men has "Going home". Played for laughs, considering that the main characters are Buddha and Jesus.
- In Tekken: The Motion Picture, Kazuya tells Nina to remind Heihachi to "clean his (Heihachi's own) neck". Note that the Japanese idiom "wash your neck" effectively means "I'm going to kill you and take your head as a trophy, so get ready"; the Tekken movie suffered from an infamously bad "Blind Idiot" Translation and rendered the phrase directly into English with no explanation, which just didn't sound right.
- Magic: The Gathering: The Phyrexians do not horribly mutilate people beyond all recognition, give them cybernetic enhancements, and reshape their bodies. They compleat them. And no, that's not a typo.
- In the Ninja Burger card game, a ninja who has lost all his Honor "apologizes to his ancestors — in person". This is also mentioned if the total Honor in play falls below a threshold; then it's the manager who has to go "apologize to his ancestors," meaning his position comes open, triggering the endgame.
- Lampshaded during one of the routines on Bill Cosby's I Started Out as a Child comedy album. When describing the high mortality rate of medics during the Korean War, Cosby mentions a medic getting "zonked" and then, a few seconds later, interrupts himself to explain: "'Zonked' means 'dead'."
- A lawyer is said to have written to a Remittance Man's father of his son's death, tactfully avoiding any mention of the fact that he was hanged for cattle rustling: "Regret to inform you of the death of your son. He was participating in a public event when the platform gave way."
- In Footnotes In Gaza, the Palestinians refer to terrorist attacks as "operations".
- Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges insist they're simply going around "dispensing justice". Unfortunately, as their Catchphrase goes, "The crime is life; the sentence is death."
- Robin (1993): When Strader Pharmaceuticals hires contractors to "clean up" after an illegal experiment the job is killing all the people who survived being targeted by the company to test a new drug, make sure their bodies are never found, kill the drug dealers used to sell the drug to the unsuspecting victims, and kill anyone looking into these victim's illness and deaths.
- Ultimate Marvel:
- Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: "Disavowed" is a Kree euphemism for "turned into protein sludge".
- Ultimate X-Men:
Wolverine: "The professor ain't the one who's gonna be feedin' any worms tonight"
Xavier: "Goodbye, old friend. Give my regards to the dodo"note
- The Ultimates: Bruce Banner has been thrown from the helicopter, so he changes into Hulk, or dies without doing so. The general said "The mail has been delivered, Captain".
- The Wild Storm: Zealot is introduced having just finished an "interview", or in layman's terms, "having taken out a group of bad guys via incredibly violent means".
- Wonder Woman:
- Wonder Woman (1942): During Judgment In Infinity the Adjudicator keeps referencing his "judgement", but Diana quickly realizes that this is just a word he uses to refer to the torture he inflicts on worlds before destroying them.
- Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, "Gothamazon": Joker sees some cops who survived an explosion and tells Man-Bat, whose just been seen dropping people to their deaths while flying:
"Langstrom go help these people up, would you? '''Way''' up."
- "The Death of Koschei the Deathless": Prince Ivan is cut into pieces by the titular villain and brought back to life by his sorcerer brothers-in-law. After he has been resurrected, Ivan and his in-laws refer to his death as a "long sleep".
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: Used by Sorcerous Overlords known as Keepers:
- From "A Fitting Punishment":
The bravest of the dark elf women raised a shaking hand. "Er, w-what did you do to them?"
"I got rid of them," the teenager replied in an impassive tone of voice, trying to pretend being the kind of person that they would not want to disobey. It was fairly hard to project an unfeeling mask, if she was honest with herself. A large part of her only wanted to provide them with some blankets, since their skin was starting to look blue from the cold. She obviously hadn't killed the bile demons either, only tossed them into the portal and given them a hard shove to help them through. If her prospective employees opted to misunderstand her, so be it.
- From "Kept Busy", implied this, because a Sorcerous Overlord is talking:
"That doesn't even begin to cover what he deserves for abandoning me. Unfortunately, I see myself forced to release him from his suffering."
"Master?" The butler sounded appalled and looked up at Mukrezar, his big black eyes wide.
"Well, it would be completely pointless of me to send troops against Mercury only to be banished in mid-assault because Groll escaped under mysterious circumstances and took the opportunity to attack my semi-abandoned dungeon."
- From "A Fitting Punishment":
- Robb Returns: Tywin Lannister's "extreme displeasure", which would result in the heads of everyone who took up arms on his land without his permission finding their heads on spikes. All of them. Starting with whichever Septon who gave them permission. And their executioner would have a blunt sword.
- Story Shuffle 2: Double Masters: In "All Downhill", in reference to a threatening beast:
Lhurgoyf, Your Highness. Theyre scavengers, but very aggressive ones." Clover gulped as they galloped down the spiralling stairs to ground level. "Proactive, you might say.
We see, Platinum said in a tone that made it clear that she saw because she had other ponies to see for her, and the closest one was named Clover the Clever.
In the sense that theyve been known to make corpses when none prove readily available.
Ah. Well then. See that we avoid that today.
- One More Time, One More Chance plays with this. While it's not exactly deadly, the word "maltreatment" is nonetheless a serious one.
- The Story of Finn: The worst punishment that can be served on a disobedient or inept Stormtrooper is to be dismissed from the troop, which context makes clear is a euphemism for being executed.
- In Team Rocket Roots, Butch says he'd have "taken care of [Giovanni]" if he knew where he was, but his gun implies something more lethal.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf series, it is revealed that Psyches go through what is called "degeneration" a year after they have been released from the collective consciousness of the Psyches, which means that their bodies break down and die within a matter of hours or days, and the only cure for them is to return to the collective.
- In the Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons, Stable 99 is ruled by an ultra-radical matriarchy, with males being used solely for breeding and recreation, and once they reach the age of 21 they are... retired, i.e. taken to the Medical Bay and "given a shot"note . No wonder the unoffical Survival Mantra of the Stable is "don't think about it".
- Aladdin: After Jafar tricks Aladdin into handing over the magic lamp, he decides to give the boy his reward... or as he puts it to Aladdin as he draws a huge serpentine dagger, "your eternal reward!"
- At the end of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the gang's cover story for the fate of Commander Rourke is that he had a "nervous breakdown" and "went all to pieces". That's one way to put being converted to crystal and getting smashed to splinters, all right.
- In Home (2015), after his bungling threatens to bring the Gorg to Earth, the other Boov threaten Oh with being "erased".
- In The Lion King (1994), Mufasa tells Simba "One day the sun will set on my time here and will rise with you as the new king." Simba doesn't seem to understand Mufasa's meaning, and he gleefully looks forward to being king, never considering that his beloved father will be dead then. It comes as a brutal shock to him when Mufasa dies sooner than anyone (except Scar) expected.
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers: When Mickey asks Captain Pete where Goofy is, he responds that Goofy's "being fitted for a halo".
- In Mulan, Shan Yu and the Huns managed to figure out that a village was being protected by the Imperial Army by analyzing a doll they had found. Shan Yu orders the Huns to fight the Army rather than moving around them, adding "besides, a little girl will be missing her doll. We should return it to her."
- In the Disney version of Peter Pan, Captain Hook announces that the bomb he planted will cause Peter to "be blasted out of Never Land — forever!"
- Robin Robin: Cat's Villain Song, "The Purr-fect Place" is about how Robin doesn't "fit in" as either a bird or a mouse, and how Cat has a place where Robin will fit in. She is, of course, referring to her stomach, and she makes this clear by the end of the song.
- Played with in The 51st State: A small-time gangster asks his henchman to "take care" of someone. Later on, the gangster finds that person's dead body. "I told you to take care of him, not to take care of him!" It may be a Shout-Out to a similar misunderstanding in Pulp Fiction.
- 1408: The room keeps asking Enslin if he wants to "check out", i.e. forcefully commit suicide.
- Aguirre, the Wrath of God: Aguirre singles out a man for assassination to his crony by noting, "That man is taller than me. That may change."
- Apocalypse Now has one in the opening, the real life euphemism: Terminate with extreme prejudice.
- Tim Burton's Batman (1989): The Joker is quite fond of these (fitting, given his history as a mobster):
- "If this clown could touch Grissom, I'd have handed him his lungs by now."
- "If we can't work out our differences, why, we'll just shake hands and...that'll be it."
- "Time to pay the check."
- "Hair color so natural, only your undertaker knows for sure!"
- Now comes the part of the show where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives."
- There's also a milder example when Rabid Cop Eckhardt, explaining how two hoodlums Batman has captured were physically incapacitated, says that they "slipped on a banana peel."
- Replicants in Blade Runner are "retired," which really means "hunted down and executed."
- Used repeatedly in Brazil. "Information retrieval" is jargon for "interrogation by electric torture" (which the interrogated party is charged for, no less). When somebody dies, each bureau uses a different euphemism, such as "deleted," "inoperative," "excised," or "completed."
- In Burning (2018), Ben tells Jong-su about his unusual hobby of burning abandoned greenhouses, which he describes as a deeply thrilling experience. When Jong-su asks him if he doesn't worry about getting caught, Ben replies that the police don't treat this sort of crime seriously, and that he has already set his sights on a specific greenhouse very close to Jong-su. While the conversation is creepy enough on its own, it gets even more disturbing when Jong-su's childhood friend Hae-mi, whom Ben has been dating, disappears shortly afterwards, and Jong-su discovers evidence suggesting that Ben's story was merely a metaphor for killing young women who have been deemed worthless by society.
- Played for Laughs in Caddyshack II, with a Shell-Shocked Veteran-turned-Professional Killer (played by Dan Aykroyd) who claims that his specialty in the service was "demolitions... of an interpersonal nature."
- In Casablanca, sarcastically lampshaded by Captain Renault:
Laszlo: May I speak to him now?Strasser: You would find the conversation a trifle one-sided. Signor Ugarte is dead.Renault: I'm making out the report now. We haven't quite decided whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape.
- In Clonus, when a clone is taken to be killed for his organs, the other clones are told he's "gone to America."
- In Cloud Atlas, Fabricants—cloned waitresses in dystopic 22nd Century Korea—are told about "exaltation," which they believe is a honorary retirement ceremony but is actually where they are slaughtered for meat to feed to other Fabricants.
- Conspiracy (2001):
Lange: I have the real feeling I "evacuated" thirty thousand Jews already — by shooting them. Is what I did "evacuation"?
- As befitting a film about the Holocaust, uses terms such as "deportation," "evacuation," and "resettlement" frequently.
- Defied by SS officer Rudolf Lange who has already massacred thousands of innocents and so has no interest in helping the others pretend that their hands are clean.
- The Crow:
- "Looks like he zigged when he should've zagged."
- And later, after a very grisly vigilante slaying: "They had to ID his teeth."
- Die Hard has this famous ad-libbed line:
Hans Gruber: I wanted this to be professional. Efficient, adroit, cooperative, not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way, so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life.
- Played for Laughs in Duck Soup:
Firefly: If anyone's caught taking graft — and I don't get my share,
We stand him up against the wall and Pop! goes the weasel!
- The Eiger Sanction (1975), 'sanction' being their word for assassination.
- This exchange in Equilibrium:
John Preston: Then I have no choice but to remand you to the Palace of Justice for processing.Mary: Processing. You mean execution, don't you?John Preston: Processing.
- The often parodied and referenced euphemism in The Godfather "He sleeps with the fishes."
- Ronan the Accuser of Guardians of the Galaxy has taken it upon himself to "cleanse" the galaxy, a possible reference to real-life religious extremism.
- Fleisch: "We bring meat for Dr. Jackson."
- In Hotel Rwanda, the phrase "Cut the tall trees" is used by RTLM Hutu Power radio to signal the beginning of the extermination of the Tutsi people. Bone-chillingly, this phrase was used in real life too.
- Idiocracy uses "Rehabilitation" as the name of a demolition derby show, which is implied to always be fatal for the unwilling participants.
- In My Country: A former Afrikaner policeman explains they would be told to "make a plan" regarding an anti-apartheid activist, which meant simply "murder them".
- The Irishman is based on a book called I Heard You Paint Houses (also a line in the film), a phrase supposedlynote Mob code for doing assassinations, in that the red blood of the victim is spattered all over the wall.
- In It (2017), the clown-shaped Humanoid Abomination Pennywise refers to the children he targets as "floating", once outright telling an intended victim, "Time to float!" Turns out that his lair is littered with floating corpses, whole and partially eaten; when he Mind Rapes Beverly into a coma with his Deadlights, she floats too.
- James Bond:
- A (sort-of) good guy does this in The Living Daylights, when General Pushkin — the new head of the KGB, who was nearly assassinated due to General Koskov's scheming — orders that Koskov, upon being found, is to be put on the first flight back to Moscow... "in the diplomatic bag". Exactly what happens to Koskov after this is not shown, so it could be killing him before sending his body back, sending him back secretly to be killed or that he is being Put On A Bus To Jail, but regardless of what it actually means, Koskov does not look especially happy.
- Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies, after learning that his wife has betrayed him to Bond, says he will "make her an appointment with the Doctor", by which he means hire an assassin to kill her.
- Subverted by MI6 and Bond, who rarely if ever use any such language, with the Judi Dench version of M outright using the word "kill" when discussing her orders (The World Is Not Enough, et al).
- Jug Face: Those killed by the Pit are said to be " taken."
- Lights of New York: Hawk instructs the bootleggers to murder Eddie, first saying "Make him disappear", and then delivering a Large Ham in form of later parodied "Take him... For... A ride".
- In Logan's Run, Logan 5 (a Sandman) is explaining his job to Jessica 6:
Jessica 6: That's what you do, isn't it? Kill?
Logan 5: I've never killed anyone! I terminate Runners.
- The Lord of the Rings: In Return of the King, the attack on Minas Tirith starts with Gothmog giving the order to "Release the prisoners." Cue severed Gondorian heads flying over the city walls.
- Used comically in the Bill Murray film The Man Who Knew Too Little, where the titular Man thinks he's acting in a play when he tells the assassin's bosses that a woman had "Gone #1" and subsequently "Flushed".
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Schmidt decides, after some Nazi officers refer to him as "Red Skull" (a name he despises) when chewing him out after discovering his plans to go rogue, to "show them his weapons."
- Avengers: Age of Ultron: Ulysses Klaue is on the phone with a client he's very unhappy with. At the end of the conversation he warns the customer that if things don't go how he wants, "The next missile I send you will come much faster."
- A rare use by the good guys in Item 47, when a SHIELD agent orders another to neutralize (kill) two civilians simply because they got their hands on some alien tech. The agent ordered to do the kill however, ultimately interprets the order differently.
- Mortie from Night Nurse takes people for a "ride" when he wants to get rid of them for good.
- In Nobody Hutch was an "Auditor" for the US government, whose job was identifying trouble makers in the various intelligence agencies and eliminating them.
Hutch: I used to be what they call an 'Auditor' - the last guy anyone wants to see at their door, because it meant you didn't have long to live.
- The Professional: Leon refers to his assassination victims as "clients" and his occupation as a "cleaner".
- Subverted in Pulp Fiction. While Jules and Vince discuss their upcoming plans, Vince mentions that Marcellus had asked Vince to take care of his wife while he was away. Jules questions the phrase while pantomiming a gun to the head, thinking this trope is in effect, but Vince quickly reassures him that it's just a friendly night out.
- In Real Genius, when a member of the think-tank won't go along with Decker's plan:
Decker: I'm afraid we're going to have to liberate George.Carnagle: By "liberate," you mean "liquidate?"
- In Séance on a Wet Afternoon, Phony Psychic Myra Savage tells her husband Billy that their son Arthur has encouraged her not to return the daughter of the wealthy industrialist whom she told Billy to kidnap (the better to promote her services as a medium to the girl's parents and bask in the resulting publicity), and that instead, he wants the girl "to be with him". This is revealed as a euphemism for murder when a furious Billy tries to break through Myra's delusions by forcibly reminding her that Arthur was a Tragic Stillbirth.
- In Sister Act, Deloris has just walked in on her mobster boyfriend Vince executing his treacherous limo driver. When he cheerfully acts as if nothing is wrong, emphasizing that everything's fine, she quickly plays along and then leaves. He isn't fooled by her supposed complacence and tells his goons to "bring her back for a chat."
Goon: "And if she runs, then what?"
Vince: "Take care of it"
(Hearing this, Deloris drops her things and runs)
- Star Wars:
- Used tragically in The Shawshank Redemption, as Brooks, unable to readjust to life outside prison, writes back to tell his friends in prison that "I've decided not to stay" before hanging himself.
- The Terminator: "You're terminated, fucker!"
- In the TRON universe, the death of a program is called "deresolution" and programs who are killed are said to have been "derezzed." This crosses over with Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" as within the Grid, deresolution is equal to death.
- In True Lies, Schwarzenegger says "you're fired" right before he discharges the missile entangled with the villain into a building. This isn't the first film to have used this joke. It also appeared in Ricochet when the villain shoots someone hanging from a truck. There could be other examples.
- The Warriors: Gang members use a lot of slang to refer euphemistically to their antics. Fighting is called "bopping," and someone who gets killed is said to be "wasted."
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
- Eddie learns of Acme's death when Lt. Santino tells him "The rabbit cacked him last night".
- The substance for killing toons is called "the dip."
- Judge Doom also uses the word "execute" to describe what he is going to do to Roger after the rabbit is found guilty (Execute literally means "carry out an action").
- Wrong is Right. The Florida Man has been told about a Ghaddafi-like figure who's just acquired a couple of suitcase nukes to destroy New York and Jerusalem, so he uses Trouble Entendre to order his assassination. The CIA director pretends not to know what the President is talking about.
President: You get the drift, Jackie?CIA Director: No sir. All I've heard is "rid me of", "pop him", "burn him" and "score a touchdown". Just as over the years in this office I've heard "terminate with extreme prejudice". I've heard "croak him" and "chill him" and "pop him", "burn him", "fire him"... "grease him".President: And you still don't understand.CIA Director: No sir.President: Well how's this: K-I-Double-L him, by God.CIA Director: By God, sir?President: By executive action.
- 1984. "Unperson" is the Newspeak term for a person who must be erased from history, making it look like they never existed at all... usually because the person has been arrested and executed. The Ministry of Truth edits newspaper and broadcast archives to remove all mention of such a person.
- In the Amtrak Wars series there are references to "pulling a trick", where trick is really TRIC — Terminal Radiation-Induced Cancer.
- Justified in Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony: Holly Short is trying to recover a demon that's been kidnapped by humans, and her commanding officer Ark Sool gives her an "unofficial recommendation" that if the humans try to reveal the demon's existence to the world, she should "take the least complicated and most permanent course of action." Sool knows that, as a law enforcement officer, there'll be a scandal if he orders one fairy to kill another, so he words his instructions in such a way that, if Holly has no choice but to kill the demon, all the fallout from the scandal will hit her career instead of his.
- Justified in Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice, when Fitz attempts to contact the king regarding whether or not he should continue with his orders to kill his latest target. Since he doesn't want the messenger to understand what he's talking about, he says that the prince still wants to "give him the gift", but after feeling out the situation, Fitz doesn't think it appropriate. Unfortunately for Fitz, the messenger brings it up to the prince, who quickly figures out what Fitz was asking about and is, shall we say, less than pleased at the attempt to subvert his authority.
- In The Atrocity Archive, Bob mentions to Mo that the Laundry has an agreement with Donald Knuth to keep volume four of The Art of Computer Programming from being published, which is why it spent so long in Development Hell: "He doesn't publish it, and we don't render him metabolically challenged."
- In The Black Company novels, there's a part where Lady is running roughshod over a client city's entrenched priesthoods. A delegation is sent to her to demand that she free various prisoners; she tells her lieutenant something like "Tell them they've been released. They'll get the message."
- Citizen of the Galaxy opens on a brutal slave planet, where many crimes are punishable by "shortening" — that is, beheading.
- In The Coward by Stephen Aryan, Reverend Mother Britak uses these a lot, being the Pope equivalent and also evil; most notably, she calls brutal interrogation by the Church Police a "Friendly Conversation". Elsewhere, the Keen people who live in the Grim Up North have neighborhoods defended by a "smiling gate" - it's not named for friendliness, but because the defenders will give any would-be invaders the "red smile" (i.e., cut their throats).
- The Guild of Assassins prefer the term "inhume" (an obscure term for burial). They also refer to the victim as "the client." The guild prides itself on its professionalism and sophistication; no gentleman wants to be killed by being hit over the head with a club by a two-dollar thug, after all.
- In Men at Arms, the phrase "Inhumed with Extreme Impoliteness" is used and implied to be Discworld's version of "Terminated with Extreme Prejudice".
- In Hogfather, Lord Downey uses the lovely phrase "removing inconvenient razorblades from the candyfloss of life."
- In Guards! Guards!, when the unnamed chief assassin is asked for help by Wonse (because of This Is Your Brain on Evil), he muses that the only kind of help he can think of to give was usually only requested to be given as a "surprise present" to someone else. He's disturbed to realise that that's probably exactly what Wonse was asking for.
- In Forced Perspectives, when the conspirators have to dispose of someone who knows too much, it's referred to as "taking his blood pressure".
- The Giver uses the term "released," which is short for Released to Elsewhere. Subverted in that the euphemism has been in place for so long that nobody knows it is a euphemism save the Giver (and later his successor, the Receiver) because nobody save him has any concept of death; to everyone else, that's the only correct term.
- In Goldfinger, while visiting Auric Goldfinger's estate, James Bond asks Goldfinger what happened to Jill Masterton, his attractive secretary. Goldfinger cryptically states that she "left his employment." Only when Tilly reveals that Jill was murdered by Goldfinger does Bond realise what exactly Goldfinger meant.
- Much later, Bond ends up dwelling on the use of the word "hit" among the mob, which is preceded by a genuinely funny moment where Goldfinger (who normally comes across as nearly emotionless) claims with a straight face that two separate gangsters fell down the stairs and died.
- The Handmaid's Tale: "Salvaging": execution by hanging. Particicution: being tortured to death by enraged Handmaids (the term is a dark reference to ParticipACTION, a Canadian public exercise program).
- S. Andrew Swann's Hostile Takeover trilogy uses the phrase "orbital reduction of target" for Orbital Bombardment.
- The Little Prince: The snake describes the deadliness of its bite with metaphors.
"I can carry you farther than any ship could take you."
"Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence he came."
- In Stephen King's The Long Walk, in which a fatal endurance walk is the main plot, being shot is referred to as, "buying a ticket".
- The Marvellous Land of Snergs: When Baldry tells all who challenge Lord Gunthorn have gone away, Sir Percival asks where to. Baldry blithely answers they went to the nearest graveyard.
- MARZENA, other than the common Spy Speak, Narrator Writer Anika From Bremen will commonly edit out certain explosive terms to make them more fluffy looking to the audience. For example, Jewish becomes either Jedish or Jayish, the word Muslims is replaced by Mooktoo, and the H-Man is the H-Man, you cannot write down his name.
- Maximum Ride:
- The School "retires" those creations which have outlived their usefulness. Max, being a snarker, lampshades it.
- In an odd example, the term "expired" is more than just a euphemism: experiments have literal expiration dates.
- In Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Never Let Me Go, "completed" is the term used when the clones die.
- And by "die", we mean "have had all their vital organs harvested for transplant into non-clone people".
- In John Ringo's Posleen War Series books, the Darhel will go to extreme lengths to avoid any words referring to death or violence.
- In The Rise and Fall of the Sky Valley Cult, the members of the titular cult refer to suicide and death in general as "being Here-Nor-There."
- Parodied in one The Saint story, in which Simon tells Heroic Comedic Sociopath "Hoppy" Uniatz to "get rid of" a couple of defeated villains. Simon genuinely meant "get them out of my sight then let them go", but Hoppy interpreted "get rid of" as a euphemism and killed them both. When he finds out, Simon isn't particularly upset.
- The Star Trek novel Federation has part of its plot in the late 21st Century, when the genocidal political movement Optimum used the term "contained" — "As in containing the spread of contagion."
- Steel Crow Saga: The Warden of one prison refers to her death row inmates as "guests". Lee, a prisoner who narrowly avoids execution, finds it a bit twee; nonetheless, the Warden is a Consummate Professional who shows no animosity towards the "guests" and avoids causing them any undue hardship.
- Survivor Dogs: Alpha uses the euphenism "end" when he asks how they should get rid of the Fierce Dog pups:
Alpha: "The question now is what do we do with the Fierce Dogs. Do we move on and leave them in the wild, or do we end this?"
Mickey: "You can't really mean... kill the pups?"
Alpha: "It's an option."
- Tales of the Bounty Hunters: In "Payback" Kritkeen's orders stipulate that if his effort at "Redesign" for the Aruzan people fails, the planet must be "alleviated of the potential for further evolution". After puzzling over it, Dengar realizes this means to wipe out all life on the planet.
- A Russian poet Maximillian Voloshin wrote a poem called Terminology which contains the various euphemisms used in Communist Russia. There are more than a dozen of them.
- In Timeline-191 by Harry Turtledove, the Confederacy uses "population reduction" to refer to the mass killing of black people especially the ones imprisoned in concentration camps.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the books about the Horus Heresy, Horus uses the word 'illuminate' to describe killing.
- The characters of Watership Down have two forms of Deadly Euphemism: the more generally used is to 'stop running', while the other is a mythological reference: to 'meet the Black Rabbit.'
- Played for laughs in The Well of Moments, where a former collector's demise in the previous book is called a "piano lesson".
- The Wheel of Time:
- A male channeler who has had his powers burned out of him (which usually results in his suicide within a few months) is referred to as "gentled," while a female would be "stilled."
- The Age of Legends survivors prefer the term "severed".
- In the Wild Cards series, people who die gruesomely of the eponymous Takisian retrovirus are said to have "turned the Black Queen". People who survive in various states of Body Horror are called "Jokers".
- The 1975 Berkely Mather novel "With Extreme Prejudice" takes its name from the phrase "terminated with extreme prejudice". Within the book a number of different phrases are used, most commonly "buttoning" up a target.
- In The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, when the protagonists Bonnie and Sylvia overhear Miss Slighcarp discussing the planned murder of their parents, she refers to it as simply "the event."
- XPD by Len Deighton, referring to the "Expedient Demise" by British Intelligence of anyone who discovers the secret at the heart of the novel.
- X-Wing Series: Subverted. At one point, Warlord Zinj decides to parachute his dragon, Admiral Pellaeon, into a situation screwed up by the heroes to salvage it, and muses loudly about whether or not it might be time for the subordinate in charge to retire. Pellaeon inquires if the Warlord would like him to "arrange something" seeing as he's already going there. The Warlord stares at Pellaeon for a while, then bursts out laughing and explains that, no, he wasn't being euphemistic; he actually meant honest-to-God retirement, the kind where "you move to a house in the country, grow marigolds and write your memoirs". This time.
- In You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) by Ruth White, anyone that reaches the age of 65 is sent away on a bus for "Vacation 65." While there is an actual vacation involved, at the end of the third day, they're administered a lethal injection. Most people pretend like they don't know the truth, though they actually do, thanks to the efforts of La Résistance.
- In Season 7 of 24, a terrorist dictator takes control of the White House and captures the president, her daughter, and a bunch of other hostages. The president asks him to release the hostages, since she's the one that he wants. He shoots one of the hostages and asks if she'd like him to "release" any more of them, starting with her daughter.
- The 100: Prisoners in the Space Station the Ark are executed by being Thrown Out the Airlock, so the people on the Ark have come to adopt "floating" as a euphemism for execution. Notable when some of the people sent to Earth call for a presumed murderer to be hanged by saying "I say we float him!"
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. occasionally uses "crossing off" to refer to killing an enemy.
- Bones has an episode in which Booth and Brennan are unsure of whether a murder actually occurred or not. To avoid letting any of the potential victim's family members know of their suspicions, they continually refer to him as having been "translated".
- When deciding how to take care of a burglar in Bottom, Eddie lampshades the trope by suggesting: "Why don't we give him the old fish fingers? They've been in there for months, they're absolutely lethal." Before Richie reminds him that they've been eaten already, which is what caused the toilet to be unflushable for the last three days.
- Breaking Bad
- Late in the series, Saul suggests that Walt might have to send Hank "to Belize". Belize is where Mike supposedly fled to escape prosecution but Saul has by that point figured out that Walt has killed Mike. Walt is furious at the suggestion and tells Saul that if he brings the matter up again then Saul is the one who will be "going to Belize".
- Later still, after Jesse attempts to burn Walt's house down after realizing he poisoned Brock, Saul suggests that Walt is dealing with "an Old Yeller-type situation."
Saul: I mean, everybody loved that mutt, but one day he showed up rabid and little Timmy, for Old Yeller's sake, had to...you saw the movie.
- Burn Notice: One of Mike's voiceovers in "Hard Bargain" uses one while describing hostage rescue tactics, including why he's mixing up a batch of thermite.
"Rescuing a hostage isn't about battering rams and guns. Charge through a door with a gun and chances are the person you're trying to save will be the first one lying on the floor dying of acute lead poisoning."
- Animal Control Squad- the officers tasked with killing all animals in the Exclusion Zone.
- Bio-robots - Men. Specifically, men who are going to be sent up to clear the 'Masha' roof, which is so intensely radioactive it killed the actual robots they tried to use.
- Doctor Who:
- The 7th Doctor serial "Ghost Light" describes death as "going to Java", with anyone who's said to be going to Java either dead or is going to be killed pretty soon.
- "Bad Wolf": The Doctor and Rose wind up on deadly game shows that use these, leading to the two not realizing that it means another contestant is going to get killed until they see it happen. On Big Brother, it's eviction, while on The Weakest Link, well, look at the title.
"She's been evicted... from life."
- "School Reunion":
- The scary black teacher (one of the Krillitanes) tells a student that she's moving up to his class because "Milo's failed me." Milo, as in the student from early in the episode who the Doctor was questioning in class, and who isn't seen again...
- The Krillitanes, who disguised themselves as school teachers, got rid of the human teachers when their plan was ready. Or as their boss put it, they took early lunch.
- The Alternate Universe Cybermen introduced in "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" refer to killing as "deletion", and to assimilating humans into their ranks as "upgrading". Given how the rest of the show doesn't shy from discussions of mortality, this probably reflects on the net-speak nature of the Cybermen rather than any censorship.
- This is supported by "The Next Doctor". The Cybermen are explicitly incapable of understanding certain human concepts. When a human ally of theirs claims she will do her best, she has to explain it as "operating at peak efficiency". It's probable that the Cybermen have no real concept of death (for whatever reason) and deletion is the closest analogue to it they can come up with.
- "The Girl Who Waited": "Do not be alarmed, this is a kindness."
- Of course, what they don't realize is that they are actually just doing their job, but in the wrong way.
- "Time Heist": Ms. Delphox, the bank manager of the place the Doctor and company are being made to rob, is very fearful of her boss, the owner Karabraxos, discovering her failure because she will be "fired". This isn't a loss of a job, but being tossed into the incinerator beneath the bank. Oh and Delphox is Karabraxos' clone and this isn't the first one the owner's "fired".
- "The Ghost Monument": Crossing over with Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide", Angstrom says that her homeworld of Albar is being "cleansed".
- In the Eureka episode "A New World", Allison warns her fellow time travellers that if the military learn they've altered history, they will be isolated and "sanctioned".
Fargo: Sanctioned, like, dead?
Jo: No, sanctioned like we each get a puppy.
- Father Ted did the "take care of" variant, when Ted realised exactly how his psychotic friend was going to take care of a large quantity of rabbits.
- In the 1990's Australian Law Procedural series Janus, barrister Michael Kidd informs his client that the police have intercepted a message he sent asking a fellow criminal to "put the handbrake" on a key witness. Kidd sarcastically points out that a jury will have no trouble working out what that means.
- La Femme Nikita: "Canceled". "Abeyance operatives". For such a cold and calculated organization Section 1 do like euphemisms, and they don't seem to even try to hide their meanings.
- Likewise, in the remake Nikita, Division refers to killing their own agents/trainees/prisoners as "canceling" them.
- In the Firefly episode "House of Gold" Nandi tells Mal why she quit being a Companion, which involved smashing a dulcimer during practice out of frustration. She then tells him about the pimp who owned the House of Gold brothel before she took over.
Mal: What happened to him?
Nandi: Let's just say he ain't playin' the dulcimer anymore either. (she and Mal laugh and clink glasses)
- The Handmaid's Tale: "Common mercy" and "particicution" are used as terms for two kinds of public execution, with "salvaging" for executions as a whole.
- I, Claudius. A senator talks of how a friend dying of an illness said he had been "called to Rome," because so many people had been summoned to Rome by Caligula to be executed it had become this trope.
- On the short-lived series Kidnapped, the assassin used by the bad guys is referred to as The Accountant, and they routinely order him to "close the account" on a particular person.
- The famous "Dead Parrot Sketch" from Monty Python's Flying Circus has the complaining customer let off a hurricane of these to describe the ex-parrot.
- Power: Tommy is always threatening to "Cancel Christmas" for someone. And more often then not he actually does it.
- There was a Sliders episode where they land on a world where people can get free money for a chance to be killed. They use euphemisms and the main characters aren't aware why they're getting the money.
- Sneaky Pete: Professional Killers are called "house painters," and killing people for money is called "painting houses" because you "paint" the walls with blood. This comes from the supposed real-life euphemism used by the mob, as claimed by Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran in his memoir I Heard You Paint Houses.
- In Squid Game, players who don't complete a challenge following the rules or in the allotted time are "eliminated". On the first day, the players learn that being eliminated means being killed.
- Lampshaded by the Garak of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He tells Kira that tomorrow the Intendant (Kira's double from the Mirror Universe) will be "gone." "Gone?" asks Kira and Mirror-Garak repeats "gone" and then comments "Please don't make me use some foolish euphemism." A bit later, he tells Kira that he doesn't go along with her plan, then her doctor-friend (Julian Bashir) will instead be "gone."
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Nemesis", the Defenders and the Kradin refer to the killing of an enemy as "nullifying" them. The theme of the episode is how soldiers are conditioned to hate and kill their enemy, so the use of euphemisms is likely a part of this.
- Super Sentai:
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger also uses "deletion" but in this case it refers to a specific form of Deader Than Dead. The extraterrestrial criminals are not only executed, but their remains are sterilised so that no clone can be made...unless they left genetic material elsewhere
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Tokumei Sentai Go Busters: Both Alienizers and Metaroids are "deleted" rather than killed.
- Taken: In "Beyond the Sky", Owen Crawford is brought to the crashed alien ship in Pine Lodge near Roswell by two young boys and their father who discovered it while out hiking. After performing a quick reconnaissance of the ship, Owen exits and gives the three of them a threatening look. He later tells his superior officer Colonel Thomas Campbell how he learned of the crash and that he took care of it. The clear implication is that he killed the boys and their father but this is never confirmed.
- Parodied in a sketch That Mitchell and Webb Look where Alan, a henchman for the Evil Genius Leslie complains about Leslie's overuse of euphemisms.
Alan: "Have him removed"? "Take him out of the picture"? I thought we agreed at the meeting that these terms were needlessly ambiguous. We all agreed that when we want someone murdered, i.e., deliberately killed to death, then that's what we were gonna say!
Alan: This is gonna be "Let's hope Professor Ritson meets with a little accident" all over again! We spent nine months hoping that Professor Ritson would meet with an accident before Leslie made it clear it was an accident we were supposed to make happen!
Leslie: Oh, and Alan - perhaps I'll see you later for a little light refreshment.
Alan: Do you mean anal sex?
- The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Welcome to Winfield", The Grim Reaper Griffin St. George tells the people of Winfield that he is in the reclamation business. After a while, they realize that he means the reclamation of souls. He later says that he has come for Matt Winnaker because his number is up and it is his time.
- In The Umbrella Academy, The Commission occasionally refers to assassinations as "corrections", since the purpose of these assassinations is to prevent the alteration of the timeline.
- On The West Wing, President Bartlet has to have it explained to him why they're sending in a "CIA wet team" for an operation in a landlocked country. "Wet" does not refer to an aquatic specialty, but that they are expected to get wet with blood.
- Being "Walked down the alley" by Chris and Snoop in The Wire.
- Yellowstone: In the Yellowstone ranch, whenever a ranch hand wants to quit but has seen too much, the management will "drive him to the train station," which involves driving him to the Wyoming state line and dumping him in a gorge. Just before executing one such man, Lloyd tells him he'll be "riding that long, black train."
- Evillious Chronicles: In "Gift From The Princess Who Brought Sleep", until the bridge, it's impossible to tell that the singer has mass-murdered everyone in her town, starting with her husband. And even after The Reveal, she continues to refer to death as 'sleep'.
- Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" from Ten provides one of the most famous examples. It is based on a true story of a boy named Jeremy who shot himself in front of his class:
Jeremy spoke in class today
- An example in Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler", after the title character goes to sleep after giving his philosophy of life:
"And somewhere in the darkness/The gambler he broke even..."
- The number 187 is slang for homicide in Gangsta Rap, since Section 187 of the California Penal Code defines the crime of murder.
- In The Bible, Jesus has a tendency to refer to the dead as "sleeping" and use "sleep" or "rest" as a euphemism for death. This causes some confusion at one point: His friend, Lazarus, falls ill and dies, and He tells His disciples that Lazarus is asleep and He's going to go wake him up, to which they ask if he's asleep then won't he get better, causing Jesus to flat out say, "Lazarus is dead." However, this has sort of the opposite effect the trope usually has, as Jesus is trying to point out the impermanence of death, a metaphor he completes by actually resurrecting the person he's referring to back to life.
- Going to Hell is nowadays called by theologians (including Pope Francis) as "Eternal Separation." Because the concept of eternal torture in the style of Dante is utterly monstrous in our modern sense of ethics, they instead emphasize that the suffering you'll encounter in Hell isn't actually physical, but mental, the pain and isolation being deprived of God's love.
- In Aerosmith, the mode "Rats in the Cellar" depicts an exterminator company named "Permanent Vacation".
- "Liquidation of reactionary classes" in Marxism is sometimes read by more extremist, violent schools to mean violent removal.
- Played with in the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where Hig Hurstenflurst explains his use of "revoked" to Arthur by spelling it out as "k-i-l-l-e-d."
Slartibartfast: It's a sort of threat, you see. I've never been terribly good at them myself but I'm told they can be terribly effective.
- This is part of a larger legal wrangle where (for various reasons) the representatives of a cloning agency were trying to get murder redefined in law. They'd managed to have the word legally changed, but not the spelling.
- Earlier in the series, Slartibartfast threatens Arthur that he will be "late" as in "the late Dent Arthur Dent" unless Arthur comes with him.
- The Dracula Dossier: Edom doesn't order your player-characters killed if they Learn Too Much, they "issue an indulgence". (Possibly an allusion to Van Helsing's justification for using the Host as anti-vampire weaponry.)
- The Les Misérables musical frequently uses "sleeping" rather than "dead" (i.e., "Please stay 'till I am sleeping," from Fantine as she's dying) in the songs." Also, most of the sinister feel is absent, as the meaning is immediately clear from context and there are plenty of times where they say "die" instead.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "And I guarantee to give you, without a penny's charge, the closest shave you have ever known."
- In Urinetown, anyone who refuses to use the pay toilets, or otherwise causes trouble, is shipped off to the eponymous town.
Bobby: So what's it like, this "Urinetown" that I've heard so much about?
Officer Barrel: Perhaps better for us to "show" you.
Bobby: Wait a minute, you're just going to throw me off this roof and that's supposed to be Urinetown?! Death is Urinetown?!
Officer Lockstock: That's one interpretation.
- Assassin's Creed Origins has the "Headache Remedy". It's effects are rather permanent, though given that it's a heavy blunt weapon.
- Whenever the Seven Deities of Asura's Wrath go out "saving souls," they're slaughtering humans for their Mantra, when they undergo an "exorcism," they're taking out their own ships to destroy a threat on board, and when they attempt a "purification," they're straight up killing someone.
- The Little Sisters in BioShock refer to dead bodies they can harvest ADAM from as "angels". When one of them sees Jack lying motionless on the ground, she says that he's still breathing, but "he'll be an angel soon". BioShock 2 reveals that they actually see the corpses as angels, people peacefully sleeping on the ground with the outline of a halo and angel wings, surrounded by rose petals.
- The 1997 Blade Runner video game by Westwood Studios also uses the film's euphemism of "retirement" when referring to replicants.
- Cyberpunk 2077 brings us a few terms, courtesy of the game's Future Slang:
- "Flatline", referring to an EKG machine's Flat Line when the person it is plugged into is deceased.
- "Zero" as in "Zero biometric readings" which, as you can imagine, a dead body shows on any biometric scan.
- Militech, one of the game's resident Mega-corporations, likes to use several versions of these when discussing those that they have in custody which they would rather not go through the process of detaining them; most of them revolve around how their more sordid activities have a notable...lack of witnesses in their confrontations with criminals.
- Arasaka, another Mega-corporation, likes to make use of the word "termination" and variations thereof when referring to employees who have been caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar, or have outlived their usefulness.
- In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, after learning that the Meriff is blocking the signal to Helios, Jack tells the players that he plans to have a "talk" with him. All the characters begin to lampshade the use of this trope, but Jack then clarifies that he really is just planning to talk with the guy.
Claptrap: I understand and acknowledge your euphemistic use of the world "Talk"!Athena: I'm not helping you torture him, Jack.Nisha: Like the fun kind of the talk or the dull kind?Wilhelm: Right. Kill him. Got it.Jack Body Double: Like... kill him, or actually... talk?Aurelia: Implied Violence! Now my dear, you are speaking my language!
- In the Crusader games, the summary execution of a WEC official on the orders of a more senior official was termed "Early Retirement".
- The Crusader from Diablo III occasionally uses some variant on "I have questions for..." or "I need to have words with..." when discussing characters that he intends to kill.
- Dwarf Fortress: Losing is fun!
- El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron: A rare heroic example. God has commanded you to "purify" the Fallen Angels. That said, Lucifel straight up tells you to kill them.
- Fallout: New Vegas: In the Dead Money Downloadable Content, the arc villain Father Elijah has captured you and a few others, slapped bomb collars on you and forced you to participate in a casino heist. He promises that after the heist hell let all of you leave. Leave the mortal realm that is!
- Final Fantasy:
- Though Final Fantasy IX doesn't explicitly shy away from mentioning death, a few characters still use these, most notably the Black Mages, who claim some of their community has "stopped." Given the short time they've been alive, this is not so much a cover-up as it is them struggling to comprehend such a thing. The speech overlaying the ending scenes is another notable example because even many of the people playing the game did not pick up on the euphemism until someone else told them. The speech is Vivi's Final Speech, and he referred to his impending death and Zidane's uncertain fate as he knew it as saying goodbye.
- In Final Fantasy X, summoners go on a pilgrimage to defeat Sin and do so with the Final Aeon, which occurs every ten years or so due to Sin always returning. The summoner then performs the Final Summoning and Sin is defeated at the cost of both the summoner and their guardian-now-converted-Aeon's life. Tidus doesn't know about it and promises Yuna all the things he wants to do with her once her pilgrimage is over while Yuna just smiles and goes along with it. It isn't until Rikku tells the truth that Tidus realizes all the euphemisms he had missed and suffers a minor Heroic BSoD.
- Final Fantasy XIII has the "Purge," in which citizens who are supposedly contaminated by elements from Pulse are "deported" or "relocated" to there, being referred to as "brave Pulse pioneers." In actuality, the Purge is cover for the mass execution of any of these citizens who are unable to escape. As the character Lightning explains — "Sanctum logic. They conjured up the Purge to eliminate a threat. I mean, why carry the danger all the way to Pulse? Why not just stamp it out here? Execution masquerading as exile. That's all the Purge ever was."
- In the ancient past of Final Fantasy XIV, when a person felt that they had completed their purpose in life to the best of their ability, they would "return to the star" to continue the cycle of Reincarnation within The Lifestream. When someone calls it dying, another person of that time admits he hadn't heard the word "die" in a long time.
- A one-off example in Fire Emblem Awakening, after Anna has taken advantage of Tiki's celebrity status for a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme:
Tiki: And you will give me every coin you have so far earned in my name. I shall see if I can't return them to their former owners personally.
Anna: Oh, come on! you're killing me here!
Tiki: You are free, of course, to decline. In which case you may pursue a new career opportunity in food services.
- One of the traps in The Forest is named the "Happy Birthday" trap.
- The Overwatch dispatcher from Half-Life 2 speaks almost entirely in these. "Sterilize" is her usual euphemism for "kill on sight". She seems to favour medical terms.
- Agent 47 of Hitman — especially in the World of Assassination Trilogy — displays a masterful grasp of innuendo and doublespeak when describing his line of work, even when under disguise. Whenever he poses as his neutral Go-to Alias "Tobias Rieper" and is asked what he does for a living, answers include "corporate liquidator" and saying he's in "the retirement business".
- In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the bad guys are very fond of saying they're about to "cut your thread" rather than simply kill you.
- The original Homeworld has a cutscene noting the fate of the captain of a captured Taiidan ship by stating that "the subject did not survive interrogation". It's not clear if it's an euphemism for 'we tortured him so much during the interrogation that he died on us' or 'when he told us why they burned down the planet we were so furious we killed him'. It could very well have been both.
- In Kindergarten, being expelled is this. Or being a guinea pig like Billy was.
- Probably makes up 50% of the dialogue of the HK-50 droids in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. For example, from the one you meet in the Justified Tutorial:
"Besides, as you proved, Master, such droids could never pose a threat to a Jedi... the droids were custodial in nature, cleaning the facility of other distractions."Translation
- Subverted in LEGO City Undercover. While Chase is working for mob boss Vinnie, Vinnie often cautions Chase to follow his orders and points out that people who didn't are sleeping with the fishes or bought the farm. Meaning they got fired and now have to work the night shift at an aquarium or bought an actual farm that Vinnie warned them was a bad investment.
- The Logomancer: When Ardus tells Nick Knack about he'll deal with the leader of a group of thieves, Ardus says he'll "make him an offer he can't refuse", and Nick takes it as this trope, but he means it literally, as his job involves negotiations.
Nick Knack: Whatever you have to do to sleep at night.
Nick Knack: I'm not judging.
- Mass Effect: Harbinger refers to the Collectors' mass-abduction of human colonies as "harvesting", and orders his troops to prepare their captives for "ascension". It's revealed that the Reapers, the overall Big Bads of the trilogy, are built using Human Resources gathered from the organic civilizations they wipe out.
- In a Shout-Out to Blade Runner, reploids in the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero games are "retired".
- With Monster Hunter: World, it's become something of a joke among players that, in game, "research" really means "track to its home, kick in the door, murder it, and fashion a new hat from its organs." Because so many missions send you out to "research" monsters that are an immediate threat to expedition personnel and operations, with the explicit objective of removing that threat. While you can often capture the monsters instead of murdering them, Elder Dragons can't be captured. So when you're sent to "research" of one them, murder is your only option.
- Zig-Zagged in Mission: Impossible: Operation Surma, when Luther and Ethan agree to "neutralize" Doctor Norton. When Ethan later reports to Luther with the phrase "scratch Doctor Norton", a shocked Luther thinks there's been a misunderstanding and that Ethan has killed Norton, when Luther only meant to get him out of the way so Spelvin can infiltrate the facility disguised as him. However, Ethan clarifies that he's only knocked him unconscious. Later played straight when Billy Baird enjoins Ethan to "clear the courtyard" to ensure Jasmine safe passage to the escape copter after her cover's blown, meaning snipering all the guards who are shooting at her.
- The titular "New n Tasty" of Oddworld: New n Tasty is the in-universe code name for the latest product soon to be released by the food manufacturing company Rupture Farms; the game starts off with a Mudokon slave working at Rupture Farms 1029, their biggest meat packing factory, discovering what New n Tasty is: the company plans to genocide his entire species to sell as delicious food snacks for the other races.
- The Batter, the main protagonist of OFF, is on a mission to "purify the world." At the end of each battle, you receive the message "adversaries purified", but you seem to just destroy them. Fair enough, most of them are specters, so perhaps by defeating them the Batter exorcises and thus "purifies" them. But the message "Zone Purified" pops up at the end of zones, and you have the option to go back to a zone you have already completed to find out what that means. Turns out a "purified" zone is a post-apocalyptic, empty hellscape completely devoid of life with the exception of hideously powerful, hostile monstrosities far more horrifying than any of the specters. It is intentionally left ambiguous whether or not the Batter is a Well-Intentioned Extremist delivering a Mercy Kill to a world that is too corrupt and broken, but there is absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever on the fact that "purifying the world" means ending it.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, when Koops is reunited with his father Koopley, he says "For ten long years we all thought you'd... you know! We thought your game was over!"
- In the mobile Pokémon: Magikarp Jump, you train the titular fish to jump good until they hit their level cap. Once this is done, it will get retired after its next tournament run and get replaced by the next generation. You might notice you also have a "Forced Retirement" stat, though... There are certain events that cause your Magikarp to be lost forever, and the first one you're likely to see involves your fish being preyed upon by Pidgeotto. It can be kind of a shocker to get struck with those events, given the lighthearted nature of the game and the series in general.
- GLaDOS uses the term "euthanized", in reference to both test subjects and also to inanimate objects.
- Or so the player assumes.
- "Baked" was another one, although she's pretty straightforward about what the green stuff at the bottom of some test chambers will do to test subjects: "The floor here will kill you, try to avoid it."
- Portal 2 introduces the Turret Redemption Line.
- StarCraft: Protoss don't annihilate planets, they purify them.
- In Star Wars: Battlefront II, the Imperial player receives a reward for the 'pacifying' Kashyyyk. Apparently, the only good Wookiee is a passive Wookiee.
- Stellaris is plagued with late-game lag, as the sheer amount of renders and calculations in the background keep on increasing. The most direct way to deal with this is, obviously, by 'reducing the number of renders and calculations'. Especially those belonging to other empires.
- String Tyrant The dolls wandering the halls aren't trying to transform you into one of them, they just want to "play" with you. The player as a doll uses play as their fight command.
- In Sunless Skies, every time a Judgement is killed, it's logged as "An Exchange of Courtesies" in the records. This is in part because of the way they kill each other (by use of a reality-defining form of language), and in part because the Judgements are really embarrassed that they aren't any better than those below them on the Great Chain and don't want anyone to find out.
- Supreme Commander, the Aeon plan to convert everyone into The Way, and cleanse the galaxy of non-believers.
- In Syndicate (2012), "unusual and innovative lobbying techniques" are used to describe a multiple murder and putting of people into comas.
- Transistor, set in the expansive cyberpunk city of Cloudbank, uses "the Country" as a euphemism for the afterlife, thus characters who are killed are referred to as "going to the Country." Meanwhile, the main antagonistic force are the Process, out to "process" all of Cloudbank, including its residents, in an Assimilation Plot. By the end of the game, with every resident of Cloudbank having been processed except Red and the Man in the Transistor (who was partially processed but still retains his free will,) Red chooses to commit suicide with the Transistor, and the final frame of the game is Red and the Man in the Transistor meeting in the literal Country.
- An optional choice in The Walking Dead: Season One. If you choose to be a dick and threaten the cancer patients in Savannah, Lee will use words such as "My friend (his gun) here asked you a question" and "Because this is your other option" (pulls out his gun).
- Watch_Dogs. Villain Clients: When dealing with a freaking slaver, don't assume that "Take care of her" means protect the liability. You can shoot the guy who says he did it to protect his client, but he has kids.
- In The World Ends with You, no one dies; they get "erased." The Players are already dead; they're all playing for a second chance at life.
- In World of Warcraft, Algalon the Observer talks about "re-origination" as the consequence of a world's failure to measure up to the standards of his masters, the Titans. "Re-origination" refers to the complete destruction of all life in a world followed immediately by the remaking of life in the world according to the Titans' original blueprints.
- In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Korekiyo Shinguji is always looking for girls who he thinks would make good friends for his beloved sister. Problem is, his sister is dead. So in order for her to meet all these new friends he's found for her, they'd have to be dead too.
- In ClockUp's Euphoria, Nemu refers to death as "The End" when the others characters begin to discuss about executing a Loophole Abuse that would allow them to get the food from the VIP room to the outside, and she is convinced that doing something like that would get all of them killed like Miyako.
- Higurashi: When They Cry:
- "Demoned Away" (onikakushi, with oni replacing the kami in kamikakushi; "spirited away") is a euphemism for killed that is frequently used in the series.
- "Transfering out" is another common euphemism. It refers to Satoko's brother Satoshi, who mysteriously disappeared a year ago. Subverted with Satoshi as he's actually in a Convenient Coma. There are other variations that the characters used too, usually not in the anime, though.
- Spirit Hunter: NG:
- Seiji is fond of using these to explain in a faux-innocent way what he or his minions have done to people that cross them. It even includes the classic 'sleeping with the fishes' when it concerns a man who lives by the shore.
- Kakuya doesn't outright say that she kills anyone — merely that they disappear, or that she'll 'break' them (the latter making sense since she's a doll herself).
- Umineko: When They Cry:
- Kasumi, Ange's evil aunt and eventual guardian says that she and her bodyguards will "have tea" with Ange; later on, we find out what she really means that she will beat her to death.
- We eventually find out that when characters in the early arcs talked about "opening the door to the Golden Land", they meant blowing up Rokkenjima with the 900 tons of explosives stashed under it.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, President Funkhouser "exiles" the Vice President into outer space for treason after finding out that he was a part of a conspiracy to commit a coup against her.
- In Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, when Louisa Dem Five's friend Oort is killed, she holds a "New Hong Kong wake" ... during which she secretly poisons his murderer with a drug overdose.
Qvakk: Sorry I ruined Oort's wake...
Louisa: You didn't, dear. This is what a New Hong Kong wake is.
- Parodied in Darths & Droids here:
Imperial Officer: Right, you lot. We're the welcoming party, so let's act like it. We're giving them the "full tour".
Clone Trooper: Right, sir! The "full tour", eh?
Imperial Officer: Er... by "full tour" I mean as much of the tour as is possible given the incomplete nature of the Memorial Gardens.
Clone Trooper: Oh! I thought you meant something completely different. That was lucky.
- There's also the "Peace Moon" in general. Because gigantic planet-destroying weaponry is apparently the only way to keep the peace.
- Girl Genius: When Zola runs into Agatha while in disguse as the Queen of the Dawn someone suggests that maybe she'll even get to sing for the Heterodyne. In respose Zola draws her gun while saying "Oh, I'll give her a song" before Terebithia snags the gun.
- In the troll society in Homestuck, the less useful members of the populace — such as, say, the disabled — are in risk of "culling".
- Then inverted in pre-Scratch troll society, where "culling" means "looked after".
- Rose's introductory arc also used "unestablished" a few times, referring to both a laboratory scheduled for Colony Drop and an unfortunate creature therein.
- Metompsychosis Union: The liberator says to "Dispose" of the pair of guards the escaping group had knocked out. Before they can be killed and eaten as the group was about to do Tilo, who had been recruited at gunpoint, steps in to have them removed from the hall non-lethally since they were his co-workers less than an hour previously.
- In Polandball, "remove kebab" is a rallying cry to eliminate Muslims. (Whether the comic itself advocates or opposes this sentiment varies from artist to artist.)
- Schlock Mercenary:
- When Kevyn is informed that none of their assets are close enough to save them from an enemy battleship:
Ennesby: By the time I get [the tanks] into position to threaten the enemy, this action will have long since been resolved.
Kevyn: "Resolved." What a tidy word that is. So prim about the doom it spells.
Ennesby: The general uses it to gloss over the tediously violent bits in his war stories.
- And then there's the All-Star.
Doragne: Our proactive defense team has departed the terms of engagement.
Putzho: Where I come from, "proactive defense" is a euphemism for "first strike."
Ulaque: This is not that approach, Putzho. We have evolved to defend ourselves with a much subtler, gentler proactivity.
Doragne: "Gentle proactivity" describes the terms of engagement from which the team has departed. Let's go with "first strike."
- When Kevyn is informed that none of their assets are close enough to save them from an enemy battleship:
- In Skin Horse, underlings at Anasigma are frequently threatened with "extirpation". Unfortunately, none of them know what "extirpate" means", and those doing the threatening aren't authorized to explain (which is convenient, because none of them seem to know either). It's eventually revealed that extirpation involves putting someone's consciousness into a Lotus-Eater Machine that simulates a walnut farm and then separating their brain from their body when Dr. Lee narrowly escapes the second part.
Number Fifteen: Okay, okay, it involves walnuts. Don't ask me again.
- Played with in Sluggy Freelance, when Torg and Riff are hired by a sinister figure to arrange a "dirt nap" for somebody. They start by digging an out-of-the-way grave...at which point Sam shows up, to take a nap in dirt, as vampires do. The sinister figure owed Sam a favour for fitting his wife with cement shoes (they're a great workout for your calves!).
- Also this.
- Lampshaded in Thunderstruck, where Stella Wincott correctly anticipates this trope: "I'm sure you have some other word for it. Some nice, sanitized euphemism for killing. Well, go ahead."
- In the Boothworld Industries creepypastas, the organization in question refers to its services as "remodeling". Judging by their courtesy calls, "remodeling" is very likely either lethal or a Fate Worse than Death.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Freeza gives his brutal beatdown of Vegeta and is about to kill him, saying that it's time to "send [him] crying home to mommy."
Vegeta: My mother's dead.
Freeza: (Grin) I know.
- Hellsing Ultimate Abridged: A repeated one is Alucard's use of "going for a walk", which usually means he's gonna do something really, really bloody, full of mayhem, and likely very expensive. It gets to the point where Integra ordering him to go for a walk is immediately and correctly understood as "the Godzilla Threshold has been crossed, go and fuck everything up right now"
- Similarly, asdfmovie 9 has this exchange.
"Jimmy, take out the dog.""Yes, mother." *YELP!*"...for a walk, Jimmy!"
- Jeff the Killer of Creepypasta fame practically has "GO TO SLEEP" as his catchphrase by now.
- The SCP Foundation does not kill. It "terminates". Sometimes people get killed. Their style guide explains the difference.
- The only major exception to this rule is the Foundation's Ethics Committee, which never use euphemisms, stating that their job is to deal with the "Cold, harsh truth"
- There's also the technical terminology "K-class scenario", which refers to the extinction of the human race at best.
- The immortal elves in Tales of MU don't like to talk about dying. The pale-skinned surface elves "take leave" when ennui sets in. Their dark-skinned cousins "greet the goddess".
- In Within the Wires, what goes on in the Extensive Studies Lab is referred to only as "Carpentry". Because between the use of anaesthetics and jaw restraints, all you can hear are noises that sound like carpentry. The smell of sawdust is how you can tell if actual carpentry is taking place.
- In Local58s Contingency, these are used in order to tell all American citizens to commit suicide for the sake of patriotism. Some of the phrases used include act, take action, and take the final and greatest liberty of all, but when it starts discussing the usage of a firearm, the implications are done away with.
- Casual Geographic has made a career out of this. Highlights include "getting a 404 on your birth certificate", "canceling your life subscription", "becoming past tense" and "going to the cookout in the clouds".
- Beast Wars uses the term "slagged" to refer to "blown up" or "killed".
- In one episode of Camp Lazlo, after Lazlo has a bad encounter with Gretchen, he hires someone to take care of her. It turns out Lazlo meant it literally, as he was hoping that doing something nice for her would make things better, but when Lazlo sees a movie where "taking care of someone" means killing them, he realizes he may have accidentally hired someone to kill Gretchen. It gets subverted when it turns out the person tasked with "taking care" of Gretchen was just going to prank her.
- Futurama parodies this when Donbot decides Bender (who's scabbing at a factory where the employees are on strike) is going to "have an accident". It goes right over Joey Mousepad's head:
"With all due respect, Donbot, I don't think we should rely on an accident to happen. Let's kill him ourselves."
- Hey Arnold!:
- In "Old Iron Man", Grandpa enters a triathlon with his competitive friend Jimmy. During the swimming portion of the race, they get lost in the ocean and worry they're about to die and begin exchanging euphemisms.
Grandpa: We're going to Davy Jones' Locker!
Jimmy: Kicking the bucket!
Grandpa: Buying the water farm!
Jimmy: Checking out of the Hotel of Life!
Grandpa: And checking into the Hotel of Death!
Jimmy: The Big Roundup!
Grandpa: The Last Tango in Paris!
Jimmy: The Last Tango in Paris? That's not a euphemism for dying!
Grandpa: I know but it was my turn and I ran out of euphemisms and I didn't want to lose the game!
- In "Grandpa's Birthday", Grandpa (worried that he's going to pass away on his 81st birthday) uses the phrase "Buying the farm" to Arnold; the latter takes it literally at first.
- In "Old Iron Man", Grandpa enters a triathlon with his competitive friend Jimmy. During the swimming portion of the race, they get lost in the ocean and worry they're about to die and begin exchanging euphemisms.
- Home Movies: the kids sometimes think they're hearing such a euphemism, like when a news reporter said she wanted to "do a piece on them".
- The Apex in Infinity Train deal with unwanted "Nulls" and other problems by "wheeling" them: flinging them off the side of the train's cars to be obliterated under its massive wheels.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Shendu (as a spirit possessing Valmont's body) told that the reports on his "demise" had been exaggerated.
- The Mask: Subverted in "When Pigs Ruled the Earth"; while trapped in a future where anthropomorphic pigs rule the Earth, Peggy and Stanley are told that they will be "terminated", and assume the natives are out to kill them. As it turns out that just means they will be fired from the city-enveloping corporation (which they, being from another time, don't actually work for) and exiled.
- ReBoot often used "erase" and "delete" in place of death: since this show is inside a computer, this is appropriate given what erasing and deleting do to actual code; there's really no attempt at hiding what those words actually mean in this show.
- The Simpsons:
- Fat Tony and his gang talk like this quite often. When, for example, Tony orders Louie to "take care" of a woman who has been annoying him, Louie worries whether his boss meant for him to take care of her or...take care of her. ("If I get it wrong, he's gonna take care of me!")
Fat Tony: The sit-downs tonight? Again this Palm Pilot has failed to remind me! I believe this needs to be hot-synced. [Louie takes Palm Pilot and shoots it] What are you doing?!Louie: I thought you meant hot-sync it. You know how it is with us, everything means kill!
- In "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer":
- "The Fat Blue Line": after an unproductive meeting with the mob lawyer in prison, Louie asks Fat Tony if he wants him to kill the lawyer and Fat Tony stresses not to with different wording, but Louie keeps interpreting it as "kill him." Tony basically gives up and finally says, "Whatever you think I want you to do, do the opposite!"
- In "A Fish Called Selma" there was a rumor spreading around about washed-up actor Troy McClure committing sexual acts with fish at an aquarium; Fat Tony tells Louie that Troy "sleeps with the fishes", Louie assumed he meant he was dead and is disgusted when Tony tells him the rumor.
- Inverted in "Bart of Darkness", wherein Bart and Lisa suspect Ned Flanders of murdering his wife, and their suspicions are apparently confirmed when Rod and Todd ask where their mother is, and Ned sadly tells them: "She's with God now." (Maude had actually gone on a religious retreat, and Ned was sad because he'd accidentally killed one of her plants.)
- On one occasion, in "Lisa the Skeptic", when Mr. Burns lets a damaging fact slip:
- Downplayed in Das Bus, when Bill Gates offers to buy out Homers fledgling internet business only it turns out the phrase buy him out means using hired goons to trash Homers home office in front of him.
Bill Gates: Oh, I didnt get rich by writing a lot of checks!
- Played with in the "Funeral" short on The Tracey Ullman Show when Homer and Marge tell the kids that their elderly uncle Hubert passed away, and Bart takes pleasure in using this trope...
Lisa: What does "passed away" mean?Bart: (makes a Throat-Slitting Gesture) You know. Kicked the bucket. Pulled the croak chain! Had a meeting with old Mr. Grim...Homer: BART!Bart: (glumly) The dude died.
- Fat Tony and his gang talk like this quite often. When, for example, Tony orders Louie to "take care" of a woman who has been annoying him, Louie worries whether his boss meant for him to take care of her or...take care of her. ("If I get it wrong, he's gonna take care of me!")
- Subverted in one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Spongebob: Squidward... he's pushing up daisies!
Patrick: Oh, I thought he was dead.
- If Mercy Graves, Lex Luthor's chauffeur and bodyguard from Superman: The Animated Series, "gives you a ride home" or "takes you for a nice little drive", it's a sure bet the only place you're headed to is the morgue.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Latin term proscriptio originally just meant "publication", and most commonly referred to written advertisements in public places that such-and-such goods or land were for sale (typically at auction). However, when Sulla decided to purge his opponents, he declared them enemies of the state and "proscribed" their property (as forfeited property of traitors, for sale by the Roman state to the highest bidder). The "enemies of the state" were thus often said to have themselves been "proscribed". Since these proscripti were also usually executed, "proscription" gradually became a term referring to purges, both bloody (like those of Sulla and Augustus) and bloodless, even by the "proscriptors" themselves. A long way from "advertisement."
- This is why "Gift" in German means "poison". Originally it meant exactly the same thing as "gift" in English, but over the years the euphemistic meaning of slipping someone a fatal "present" took over as the main one.
- During the French Revolution, "à la lanterne" (literally "to the lantern") was used as a slogan referring to the Vigilante Execution of alleged counter-revolutionaries by hanging them from lamp-posts.
- The Final Solution to the Jewish Question is itself a Deadly Euphemism that created an entire category of Deadly Euphemisms. Related examples include:
- "Special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung) is the best-known euphemism used by numerous German government and paramilitary agencies during World War II, and could mean execution.
- 'Desert Zones' — Wüstenzonen, Army term for areas depopulated through the deportation or execution of all inhabitants and in which all structures had been razed, so those communities couldn't support partisans or enemy special agents; no food or shelter was provided to deported populations, so deportation generally meant slower death.
- 'Minesweeper-42' — Minensuchgerät (zweiundvierzig), Army term for roller or plough tied to a non-German, so only one non-German at a time would die. Previous measures had been highly inefficient, since a single mine detonation could reduce the clearing speed of multiple units or make them totally unavailable (the elderly, women, and children were egregiously affected, lacking the upper-body strength to drag themselves effectively or resilience to continue functioning more generally). More considerate commanders tried to make exclusive use of POW or Undesirables, and only expended non-German natives when these stocks had been exhausted.
- 'Volunteer' — 'Hilfswilliger or Hiwi, general term for conscripted Soviet POW and civilians: German citizens legally couldn't be forced to kill people, so police units asked Hilfswillige to choose between 'volunteering' for it or being tortured and/or killed; provision of alcohol increased Hiwi mileage.
- 'Special Unit' — Sonderkommando, police term for volunteer prisoners from labour camps used to move, strip, and dispose of corpses to significantly increase Hiwi mileage.
- 'Task Force' — Einsatzgruppen, official name of police units used exclusively to kill POW and civilians who might become spies or saboteurs: communists and Jews were considered both by definition.
- 'Special Action' — Sonderaktion, police term for deportation of a Jewish Ghetto, sometimes to extermination facilities.
- "Resettlement in the East" referred to the Ghettoization process and initial attempts at resettlement in the Lublin District of the Generalgouvernement. There were also plans to deport Jews to Madagascar or Siberia. However, as the war started going wrong for the Nazis, they eventually adopted Operation Reinhard- the Final Solution that we all know today, the annihilation of the Jewish race. They still called it "deportation".
- The term "concentration camp" was a Deadly Euphemism in some cases, as the regime did not officially admit that extermination facilities existed; the original definition of "concentration camp" was a 'prison where the civilian population of South Africa is concentrated and held so they cannot aid the Boer insurgency'. note The "euphemistic" definition has almost completely supplanted the original definition.
- Communist regimes:
- "Reformation/Education through Labour" means sending someone to The Gulag.
- Victims of the Soviet Union's gulag system would sometimes—either at sentencing or later as a punishment—be "denied the right to correspondence." This was the official explanation to family and friends for why someone was far too executed to write home.
- "Liquidate" was the preferred word for executions during Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union, though it became widely known that it was as a synonym for "kill." Another was the "Exceptional Measure of Punishment" (death penalty).
- The Soviets (more specifically Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov), during the Winter War, referred to the bombings on the Finnish people as "airdropping food to the starving Finnish." Ironically, this resulted in the Finnish nicknaming the Soviet cluster bombs as "Molotov's breadbaskets," and coining the infamous name of their improvised incendiary weapon, the Molotov Cocktail. "A drink to go with the bread."
- In Communist-era Poland, political prisoners were often subjected to 'exercise routine' (literally 'path of health'), an euphemism for old-fashioned running a gauntlet or just a simple beating. 'Falling down the stairs' was also a common explanation of bruises.
- In World War II, the Japanese were not invading and conquering Asia, they were "liberating" Asia from colonial rule.
- The Japanese military did not have sex slaves, they used "comfort women". Later on, they started claiming that the "comfort women" were not sex slaves but voluntary/hired prostitutes.
- Similarly, there was no Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. Instead, it was a "peaceful liberation".
- The United States did not invade Iraq in 2003; instead it began "the disarmament of the Iraqi regime".
- Governments "neutralizing" their victims.
- An interesting example is the phrase "terminate with extreme prejudice". The original phrase was "terminate with prejudice", which in the business world meant "fire him and don't forget why".
- In the Philippine police and military, the term "salvage" is used in place of "summary execution." (This term was adopted by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale.)
- During the Soeharto regime days in Indonesia, being "secured" (more literally, "taken to a safe place") either refers to anything from house arrest, exile, or death sentence.
- In various places in South America, an unofficial euphemism for clandestine abduction and extrajudiciary execution is "disappear", as in people getting disappeared; it is a crime against humanity officially known as enforced disappearance. During the National Reorganization Process in Argentina, a number of "disappeared" people would be selected for "transfer" and then summarily executed; infamously, many were drugged and thrown into the ocean from helicopters.
- In Colombia there's an idiom: "hacer una vuelta" or "hacer la vuelta" which means "running an errand"; A slight variation ("hacerle la vuelta" which means "running an errand to [person being talked about]") is also used as an euphemism for the act of carrying a contract killing.
- Destructive nuclear potency is measured in sunshine units; a related term employed when discussing nuclear war, megadeath, is only marginally less upsetting than just coming out and saying "one million civilian casualties" (it's much shorter, though, so it might not actually be used as a euphemism).
- The word execute was itself originally one of these — it was being used in the "carry out an order" sense, short for "execute the death sentence": Executioner itself is an euphemism for a hangman (who carries out judicial hangings) or headsman (who carries out judicial beheadings); State electrician is the executioner who operates the electric chair.
- In a similar way, the Italian equivalent "giustiziare" means literally "to apply justice"-said justice being the death sentence. The "giustiziere" is literally someone who applies justice... But, differently from the English term, he has no state mandate.
- "Undertaker" would, at face value, refer to anyone to "undertakes" any kind of action, but it is used specifically to refer to the disposal of dead bodies.
- A couple examples from the United States include enhanced interrogation for torture and contingency operations for undeclared war.
- Extrajudicial killings in India that are committed by the Police are usually termed "Encounters". The original term meant that the Police were attacked first and shot back in self-defense, killing the perpetrator. The modern usage has effectively supplanted the original meaning, since in these cases, it's usually a Frame-Up, allowing them to say that they were, indeed, attacked first.
- Various version of the terms "wet job," "wet work," or "wet team" refers to killing, often at close quarters. The "wetness" is the victims' blood.
- "Police Action", first used by Harry Truman to describe the Korean War, now in common use: it generally means "a war that is not officially declared as a war, but usually cites some violation of international law and/or explicit authorization from the United Nations as justification." This makes the terminology make a fair bit of sense: a state that violated international law is, in effect, a criminal, and in the absence of a neutral world police force, states are (in the modern understanding) entitled to enforce international law on the behalf of the international community — if the international community, as embodied by the UN (and specifically the Security Council) says it's OK. Several years before that, in 1947 and 1949, Dutch military actions in Indonesia (then a Dutch colony) were also referred to as "police actions", even though they resembled the Vietnam War more than anything, including entire villages being massacred.
- The Rwandan Genocide:
- The mass murders were described by the government as "working." For example, in one province, where the local governor didn't want to participate in the genocide, Rwanda's presidents ordered him removed, so that they could "work."
- Hutu propagandists spewed hateful rhetoric like "Cut the tall trees" as a code word to tell people to target and murder the Tutsi people, who were believed to be taller on average than the Hutus. A more overt slogan was "crush the cockroaches."
- Subway/train suicides tend to use specialized terms which specifically avoid the suicide connotations, mostly to prevent their public image from being associated with people killing themselves by stepping in front of their trains:
- In Japan they're called "human damage incidents."
- In New York, all service disruptions caused by people being run over (suicide or otherwise) are always referred to as "police investigations." That term is also used to refer to literal police investigations, so it can be somewhat ambiguous. Subway workers and those who picked up the term from other sources typically refer to such a thing as a "12-9;" the radio code for such incidents.
- In Germany (or Hamburg at least) the incredibly bureaucratic word "Personenanfahrschaden" (no direct translation — literally speaking, it translates to something along the lines of Person knock-down damage or Collision damage) was in use, but this practice was discontinued, probably because of silliness and a not really working euphemism.
- In Paris, such incidents are called "Accident voyageur, ("traveler accidents"). When it's a "Accident grave voyageur" ("dire traveler incident"), you know someone died.
- On a few U.S. railroads (e.g. New Jersey Transit), a suicide is called a "trespasser" or "trespassing incident." An NJT passenger who hears "The Northeast Corridor Line is delayed because of a trespasser incident at Edison" should expect to be at least 20 minutes to an hour late.
- "One-way ride" is an euphemism used by The Mafia as a gangland hit: lure their victims in a car, take them to a remote location, usually a forest, where they'll be disposed of (either en route or after arriving).
- If it is said that someone, generally in the armed forces, is not taking prisoners, what do you think happens to the people they capture? A catch and release program? Disarming them and sending them on their way? Maybe... but probably not. Similar with "giving no quarter".
- In Finnish criminal slang, a hitman is called a "torpedo".
- Similarly, the Japanese term for a low-rent hitman is "teppodama", or "bullet". A fitting analogy for someone who is cheap, expendable and only useful for killing.
- "Falling down the stairs" is a common one (in the UK at least) to describe police beating up prisoners, either for interrogation or just revenge; particularly unfortunate prisoners may manage to fall down the stairs in a single-storey building. In the US, the term is used interchangeably with "fell while trying to flee."
- Police and traffic-safety dispatchers in Arizona and New Mexico sometimes have difficulty with the fact Navajos prefer to have nothing to do with dead bodies not only do they try not to look at them, they also don't say "dead" or any synonym. "He has stopped moving" tends to confuse dispatchers who don't know it's a euphemism, since "stop moving" could mean unconsciousness as well.
- Within United States law enforcement as a whole, many departments use "ten codes" or "signals" to specify certain occurrences or incidents rather than saying them out loud, especially when it comes to addressing a deceased subject. The codes vary from department to department, and can range from harmless ("10-4" being the most well-known, meaning "Acknowledged", "Signal-89" is requesting for an officer to advise on their status in the field) to a Deadly Euphemism ("10-48" often means the discovery of a dead body or confirmation of a subject being deceased; "Signal 63" means an officer is in a deadly situation and needs backup immediately). However, there is not nationally accepted list of ten-codes or signals, meaning that the variations can cause some serious confusion issues when two or more departments are working together to the point of being more trouble than they are worth. As a result, many places use "plainspeak" over the radio, and either restrict the usage of ten codes and signals to inter-departmental channels or do away with them altogether, though most if not all still stop short of becoming downright informal on official channels; most departments exclusively use "deceased" as their plainspeak vocabulary of a dead body, regardless of circumstance. Some departments take it a step further by not even using "deceased", instead simply telling dispatch to "start an M.E.", referring to the department's Medical Examiner who is the often called on to confirm the time of death of a patient, so when their presence is requested, one can assume, fairly accurately, that the patient in question will not be needing a ride to the hospital.
- In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the British military generally used the fairly-cheerful-sounding "knocked on the head" to describe someone dying.
- During World War 2, the Royal Air Force said that they would fundamentally shift to a policy called "area bombing" or "morale bombing". A British journalist then said that a campaign of morale bombing was really a cosmetic term for "massacre."
- "Dehousing" civilians was another euphemism used in strategic bombing. It was often expected that civilians would be in the structures being dehoused.
- One of the court positions of the Ottoman Empire was the "Bostancı-başı," or "Head gardener." While the men he oversaw were technically responsible for the grounds of the palace, they were also bodyguards, and what the head gardener was actually pruning was people; he served as the emperor's chief executioner.
- The modern-day Turkish military has a tendency to use the word "cleansed" ("temizlendi") when referring to an area being secured from "terrorists". Pundits sceptical of Turkey often suggested the wording is indicative of ethnic cleansing, especially since many such operations take place in the Kurdish-populated east.
- A (usually) non-fatal variant: members of the US Armed Forces sometimes refer to the Purple Heart (a medal given to military personnel who are wounded in action) as the "Enemy Marksmanship Medal."
- A famous murder trial in the UK hinged on this. The accused had been charged for participating in the murder of a police officer during a robbery, by encouraging his accomplice, the gunman, to kill him. The case hinged on whether what he had said to the accomplice, "Let him have it," meant "Shoot him" or "Hand the gun over to him." He was convicted and hanged, but later was posthumously pardoned.
- Official verbage for vehicle accidents can veer into this, especially when aircraft are involved:
- When a plane crashes into a mountainside due to pilot error (perhaps due to poor visibility, as opposed to the plane itself malfunctioning), it is known as "Controlled Flight Into Terrain."
- This one sounds like a euphemism, but in fact it's called that because that's exactly what it is: a crash in which the plane does not malfunction and remains under the control of the crew at all times, as opposed to a crash because of a mechanical failure, loss of control, or foul play. ("Pilot error" is too vague because pilot error can cause crashes in lots of ways, not just this one.) "CFIT" is less a euphemism than a term of art referring to this specific type of crash, usually among accident investigators.
- Likewise, in skydiving, "bouncing" is a euphemism "to land on unsurvivable speed". It invokes an image of one's lifeless body bounces up after the fatal contact with ground.
- When a plane crashes into a mountainside due to pilot error (perhaps due to poor visibility, as opposed to the plane itself malfunctioning), it is known as "Controlled Flight Into Terrain."
- There is a sarcastic term in Polish for a person possessing compromising information about the people in power (government, organized crime, etc.) who conveniently dies in semi-mysterious circumstances. Such a person is said to have been visited by the "serial suicide."
- The idea of Nuclear War is so grim that, in official statements, political leaders will not actually threaten to "nuke" someone; instead, they will use terms such as "grave consequences", "massive retaliation", and "unlimited response". This was double-subverted on 9/11, when top government officials in the U.S. used variations on these phrases in discussing the upcoming American response, one official informing reporters that "We're going to go after them with everything we've got." The fact that no nuclear retaliation followed might lead people to suspect that this example was a subversion of this trope — except it later came out that these officials knew exactly what they were implying and fully intended a nuclear response to 9/11; it was Bush putting his foot down that prevented such a thing from actually happening.
- Nowadays, these sorts of euphemisms make popular memes among the sort of political fringe groups that call for violent revolution. Such groups mainly use those memes just for fun and seldom make much of a secret about what they're referring to.
- "The boogaloo" is an Unusual Euphemism for a hypothetical race war, predicted by an American Right-Wing Militia Fanatic movement that coalesced in late 2019 and rose to further prominence the following year in the protests surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. The nickname arose on 4chan after people coined the phrase "Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo" to refer to a potential Second American Civil War.
- "Physical removal", as coined by palaeolibertarian philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, initially referred to exiling leftists from society. The phrase gained new life online in the context of murdering leftists, eventually becoming the name of a now-defunct anti-leftist Reddit community.
- Another far-right catchphrase (which was popular on the aforementioned subreddit, for example) is "free helicopter rides", referring to the practice of throwing political dissidents into the ocean from an aircraft. This method of extrajudicial execution occurred under a number of regimes, including Zaire (before it became the Democratic Republic of the Congo) as well as The French Colonial Empire, but is most infamously associated with Argentina under the National Reorganization Process and Chile under Augusto Pinochet, which is the period that the "free helicopter rides" memes are invariably harkening back to.
- Meanwhile on the radical left, "the wall" is a popular shorthand for Shot at Dawn, referring to the wall against which these aspiring revolutionaries hope to back their capitalist oppressors before executing them.
- Vladimir Putin supposedly has his own catch phrase when he wants someone to be killed, roughly translated as "someone should do something about X." If true, it also gives him plausible deniability if hes even accused of murder, as he can always say one of his subordinates misinterpreted him.
- During the Algerian war, the French conducted mass arrests and interrogations to find the FNL guerillas: when they let a person go he was reported to have been "set free." After being killed, they were reported to have been "liberated."
- Medical slang for dead patients sometimes has elements of this. Examples include Assumed Room Temperature, 11th floor transfer, Healthy goober (tumor), Good for Parts, Donorcycle (motorcycle crash victim), Cabbage/Turnip (comatose vegetative)
- "Long pork" is an infamous euphemism for human flesh, as seen in the trope name The Secret of Long Pork Pies.
- "The Troubles" is the official name for a decades-long ethnonationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that killed thousands.
- In the maleku jaíca language there are several idiomatic expressions that qualify, for example: losing their face (dying violently or by accident), hiding their face (killing someone) and putting fire on one's hand (causing pain to someone by killing their loved ones).
- Japan's idol industry uses the term "graduating" when a member of a group is leaving for undisclosed reasons, usually due to controversies. Likewise, farewell concerts are known as "graduation ceremonies". Virtual Youtuber companies such as hololive and Nijisanji also employ the same terminology as both industries share a lot when it comes to terms and guidelines their members should follow, jokes about vtubers's behavior being as un-idol like as possible notwithstanding.
- Subverted with the Takarazuka Revue, which industry shares quite a few similarities with idol culture (but are not the same, plus the Revue predates idol culture by roughly a century). When actresses leave the Revue officially, they are said to be "graduating" (taidan) because they are known as "students" (seito) even though many of them are in their late 30s-early 40s when they leave, or even older for Senka. note Reasons for graduation can be Quitting to Get Married note , moving onto a career in a different field (either mixed-gender showbiz or non-showbiz altogether), or simply fading into obscurity and living a normal life.
- Both subverted and played straight in the US Navy, depending on the fleet: in some fleets the order to attack a target is given as "engage track 1234", a straight example of a euphenism. In others, the order is "kill track 4321" in order to make it unmistakably clear what is being ordered. Note that either phrase requires the operator to repeat back the order verbatim so as to ensure that there was no error in giving the order and that the operator is about to fire at the correct target.
- Some social media users have begun saying "unalive,"note as opposed to words like "dead" or "kill," to evade censorship on platforms like TikTok that forbid references to death.