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Euphemism Buster

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"General Heydrich, I have the real feeling I 'evacuated' 30,000 Jews already by shooting them in Riga. Is what I did 'evacuation'? When they fell, were they 'evacuated'? There are another 20,000 awaiting similar 'evacuation'. I find it useful to know what words mean."
SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Lange, Conspiracy

Someone uses a euphemism, Last-Second Word Swap, or something similar, and someone else blurts out exactly what the first person meant.

It generally comes in two versions: Ditz and Intentional. The Ditz version is just the person figuring it out for themself without realizing that the speaker was trying to be discreet. The Intentional version occurs when a character simply doesn't care about the delicacy of the matter and prefers getting the point across with Brutal Honesty, or just deliberately disregards it to be obnoxious about it. If the person the speaker is talking to simply doesn't understand what they're trying to say, it may lead to the former having to bust their own euphemism just so the latter can get the message.

The euphemism may or may not be unusual or deadly. Compare and contrast Lampshaded Double Entendre (in which the person who speaks Double Entendre actually means innocent things until someone mistakes it as something that isn't innocent), Don't Explain the Joke, Fee Fi Faux Pas.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Adventure tri.: In the fifth film, Hackmon appears to Meiko's father and Daigo to tell them Homeostasis has ordered Meicoomon be "removed". Meiko's dad cuts in to state he means destroyed.

    Comic Books 
  • Darth Maul. At the Auction of Evil, Maul claims to represent the Haddrex Consortium.
    Xev Xrexus: "Consortium"? Dear boy, let's call your employers what they are. A gang, yes?

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • But I'm a Cheerleader:
    Hilary: There's no inappropriate behaviour allowed.
    Megan: swearing?
    Graham: No, inappropriate like fucking. You get caught in the throes of sodomy and it's au revoir.
  • A darker example in Conspiracy, a drama about the Wannsee Conference, which provides the page quote, during which the Security Police managed to get authorization for an anti-Jewish genocide (later termed "Operation Reinhard") which outshone the ones accomplished to that date by the Wehrmacht, Einsatzgruppen, and Regional Security Chiefs. The term "evacuation" is frequently used to describe the Security Police's program. After about an hour of this, Lange, who works with the security forces in Reichskomissariat Ostland (and has been engaged in the usual "preventative security" operations to eliminate demographics targeted for ethnic cleansing by the Nazi regime), tires of his indirectness.
  • The Grey Zone: Muhsfeldt tells the Sonderkommando of Crematorium IV that the guards are planning on "moving" them soon to give them a "reprieve". Everyone involved knows what that really means. Rosenthal says that they would much rather continue their work. Muhsfeldt says it's not up to him—the decision has already been made by the camp directorate.
    Rosenthal: Why kill us now? We're the best kommando you've had.
    SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt: Did I say kill?
    Rosenthal: We both know what we're saying.
    SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt: So I'm a liar.
    Rosenthal: You are what you are.
  • This forms a Running Gag in Hot Fuzz, where the gruff PC Walker will often finish off PC Thatcher's Double Entendres by pointing out exactly what she was hinting at. Made even funnier by the fact that Walker's accent is slightly impenetrable.
    PC Doris Thatcher: Oh, I dunno. I quite like a little midnight gobble. Haha!
    PC Bob Walker: ...cocks.
  • The names of the guards in The Kentucky Fried Movie are Long Wang, Hung Well, and Enormous Genitals.
  • From Mallrats:
    Brandi: Second suitor: if we were making whoopee, what sounds would you make?
    Brodie: Wait, what's whoopee?
    Brandi: You know, being intimate.
    Brodie: What? Like fucking?
  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins:
    Smith: You're going to help remove some of the filth.
    Remo: I like that. That's nice. It's a lot nicer than "kill" or "destroy" or "terminate with extreme prejudice." That's what you're really talking about, isn't it?
  • Quantum of Solace has M showing she knows a Bond One-Liner when she hears one:
    Bond: Tell her Slate was a dead end.
    Tanner: [to M] Slate was a dead end.
    M: Damn him, he killed him!
  • Trainspotting: Played for Black Comedy. Mark buys a hit of heroin from Mother Superior while the two banter like a patron in a fancy restaurant and the waiter. Mark overdoses and Mother Superior asks if he should call a taxi. Cut to an ambulance driving past in the street...and Mother Superior stuffing an unconscious, dying Mark into a taxi.
  • Wrong is Right. The US President 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 however is tired of the CIA taking the rap whenever the President wants Plausible Deniability, so insists that the President spell the order out. Which he does, literally.
    President Lockwood: K.I.L.L. him, by God.
    Director Philindros: By God, sir?
    President Lockwood: By executive order.

  • A famous WWII fighter pilot is giving an inspirational speech to a girls' school.
    Pilot: ...and remember, ladies, no matter how sticky the situation, you can always get out of it. For instance: back in the war I was in a terrible dogfight — there was one fucker behind me, one on top of me and one to my left —
    Headmistress: [leaping to her feet] Girls, girls, if you don't know, there was a type of German aircraft called a Fokker.
    Pilot: That's right. [beat] Although these fuckers were flying in Messerschmitts...

  • In The Bible, Jesus busts his own euphemism. When their friend Lazarus becomes sick and dies, Jesus tells His disciples that Lazarus is sleeping, and He intends to wake him up. Not realizing what He meant by "sleep", they ask that if he's sleeping, that means he'll get better, causing Jesus to just flat-out say, "Lazarus is dead."
  • In the Dilly The Dinosaur story "Dilly and the Missing Pet", Dilly asks his parents where Swampy, his missing pet swamp lizard, is.
    Father: Ah... That's something we don't really know as yet, Dilly. Swampy could be OK, of course, but I think you ought not to, er... get your hopes up too high...
    Mother: I'm afraid your father's right, Dilly. It's dangerous for swamp lizards out there. The traffic in this neighbourhood is terrible these days...
    Dorla: [Dilly's big sister] What they mean, Dilly, is that they think Swampy's been run over. You know, hit by a dino-car, flattened, D-E-A-D, dead. Got it?
  • In The Remnant from the Left Behind series, when Steve Plank as Pinkerton Stephens turns down taking the Mark of the Beast and accepts the alternative of death, the Global Community staff person working at the mark application site was just about to refer to the guillotine as the "loyalty enforcement facilitator" when Steve interrupts and refers to it as "the guillotine".
  • Treasure Island: When Jim Hawkins first hears Long John Silver talk about how he and the others are "gentlemen of fortune", he thinks to himself in shock that it means nothing more nor less than garden variety piracy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A variant from an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Sally: He said he wanted to sleep with me. I wanted sex, but seeing as he was tired I decided to just go home.
  • In Blackadder II episode "Money", when Blackadder is trying to sell his home. Amusingly, this actually convinces the couple to buy the house — the wife can't stand "those dirty indoor things".
    Mrs: What about the privies?
    Edmund: Well, what we're talking about in, erm, privy terms is the very latest in front-wall, fresh-air orifices, combined with a wide-capacity gutter installation below.
    Mrs: You mean you crap out of the window.
  • An un-lampshaded version in Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    Mayor: No slayer of mine is going to live in a fleabag motel. That place has a very unsavory reputation. There are immoral liaisons going on there.
    Faith: Yeah, plus all the screwing.
  • One sketch in Burnistoun features a political debate that's nothing but the two candidates using elaborate euphemisms to hint that their opponent's wife is sexually promiscuous, then clarifying explicitly what they mean about the wife's sexual proclivities.
  • On Chappelle's Show, a parody of a PBS Frontline documentary has the narrator (a white man) warn viewers:
    Caption: Warning!
    Narrator: For viewers sensitive to issues of race, be advised that the following piece contains gratuitous use of the "N" word.
    Narrator: And by the "N" word, I mean "Nigger".
    Narrator: There, I said it.
  • Cheers: When Sam manages to buy back the bar in season 8, Carla cheerfully exclaims that it's like the good times, "before darkness fell over the Earth." Norm helpfully explains to Frasier that she means "before Diane showed up." Frasier darkly responds that he knows full well what Carla was talking about.
  • Occasionally, when a Cutthroat Kitchen contestant is sabotaged too hard to make their dish properly, they'll try to go for a Less Embarrassing Term, such as "deconstructed omelet". This rarely fools the judges:
    Judge: Let's call them what they are, your scrambled eggs.
  • Doctor Who: In "Journey's End", the Doctor notes that he and Rose have been locked up in a vault with Davros, and that if Davros is in a vault, he's not in charge of the Daleks this time around. Davros tries dancing around it, and the Doctor takes some serious glee in shooting his attempts down. Tellingly, Davros just changes tack rather than respond.
    Davros: We have... an understanding.
    Doctor: Nah, I've got the right word for it: You're the Daleks' pet!
  • Dollhouse
    Topher: He seemed to be having a kind of... man-reaction.
    Dr. Saunders: A what?
    Topher: A, you know, reaction that a man — person might have in the... you know, the... naked part. Shower. Victor.
    Dr. Saunders: Victor had an erection?
    Topher: I prefer man-reaction.
  • Fist of Fun's "Four Horsemen waiting for the apocalypse" sketch has Pestilence working as a milkman. One of his customers tells the camera "Although he's a bit odd looking, I know lots of housewives around here would love to get their hands on his extra pinta, if you know what I mean. [Beat] I mean his cock."
  • Frasier gives us this exchange:
    Niles: How long have you known her?
    Frasier: Three days.
    Niles: Have you two, er... [cocks eyebrow]
    Frasier: No, not that it's any of your business.
    Niles: But you're, er... [raises eyebrows]
    Frasier: Soon.
    Niles: We are talking about—
    Frasier: Oh, of course we are!
    Niles: ...Sex, right?
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Vivian's sister comes to visit with her new boyfriend, and the rest of the Bankses remark on how "tall" he is, until Will...
    Will: Is it just me or did y'all notice he was white?
  • Friends:
    • Chandler is hesitant to have sex with his new girlfriend, Kathy:
      Chandler: Her last boyfriend was Joey...
      Ross: And you're afraid you won't be able to... fill his shoes?
      Chandler: No, I'm afraid I won't be able to make love as well as him.
      Ross: I was going for the metaphor.
      Chandler: And I was saying the actual words.
    • It was a running gag that when Joey said something raunchy, he'd follow up with an explanation in case the others didn't catch his meaning, which they always did. Once he said, "If you know what I mean," to which Monica replied, "Joey? We always know what you mean."
    • In an earlier episode, the Friends are comparing sex to a concert, comparing foreplay to a comedian, and penetration as the band. The women say that they should bring back the comedian for a second go a bit more often otherwise they might just end up listening to the album of the band instead. Joey responds with: "...We're still talking about sex, right?"
  • Legends of Tomorrow. Sara Lance and John Constantine end up having sex during a mission. Afterwards Sara thanks him for helping out with the demon they were up against, so Constantine makes a rather fumbling offer of help whenever Sara needs it. Sara then says casually, "And thanks for the shag, too. That was great."
  • In Lost, this overlaps with Censorship by Spelling. Hurley doesn't want to talk about the dead in front of a kid (Walt), so he spells it out:
    Hurley: But what about the B-O-D-Y-S?
    Michael: What are you trying to spell, man, "bodies"?
    Walt: B-O-D-I-E-S.
  • MythBusters:
    Narrator: And in the pouch will be... let's call it "genetic legacy".
    Jamie: Genetic legacy? It's sperm. Every kid in grade school knows that. Helps make babies, you know?
  • In an episode of NewsRadio, Bill hastily informs Dave of Lisa's potential sexual endeavors using a euphemism. Dave, who was no longer dating Lisa, doesn't have a strong reaction to the news, which causes Bill and Mr. James to assume he didn't catch the euphemism:
    Bill: You know what that means, don't you?
    Dave: Yes.
    Mr. James: That means sex.
    Dave: I know.
  • On Night Court, when Dan catches Bull in a hotel room with his little sister:
    Dan Fielding: You guys didn't sleep together, did you?
    Bull Shannon: Of course not!
    [Dan sighs in relief]
    Bull: We just had sex!
  • Person of Interest: When the Chief of Staff starts giving her flak, Control spells out exactly what her organisation has been doing behind the scenes to keep the United States safe. So far they've handled 853 threats to national security. "And by 'handled', you do know I mean killed, right?"
  • Scrubs
    Elliot: Those gyno girls are really putting the pressure on. We must have looked at a hundred women's bajingos today! Bajingo, bajingo, bajingo. I mean, I can't even look at my own bajingo.
    Carla: Is that because it looks so much like a vagina?
    Elliot: Carla, there's people!
  • Inverted in the Seinfeld episode "The Yada Yada". Elaine is describing an old date while explaining the usage of the Yada Yada.
    Elaine: He took me out to eat, I had the crab bisque, we went back to his place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.
    George: But you yada yada'ed over the best part.
    Elaine: No, I mentioned the bisque.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "I, Mudd", Harry Mudd describes how he wound up on the android planet after getting arrested for one of his scams:
      Mudd: Well, of course I... left.
      Kirk: He broke jail.
      Mudd: I, ah, borrowed transportation...
      Kirk: He stole a spaceship.
      Mudd: ...the patrol reacted in a hostile manner...
      Kirk: They fired at him.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "A Man Alone", Keiko O'Brien is trying to convince Rom to let his son go to the school she's opening.
      Rom: Little lady, little lady; what do you know of Ferengi education?
      Keiko: I understand you employ a work-study approach, Mister Rom, with apprenticeships in a wide range of business and economic fields.
      Rom: [laughs] We throw them into the cut-throat competition of Ferengi commerce and anyone who survives, graduates.
    • Star Trek: Voyager, "Meld":
      Suder: Have you come to kill me?
      Tuvok: To execute you for your crime.
      Suder: To execute me. I see. And calling it that makes it more comfortable for you.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look:
    • Used to make fun of any Deadly Euphemism a Bond villain might come up with, as one of the henchmen hates ambiguity.
      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!
    • Even more so when he asks his minion:
      Leslie: Perhaps you'd like to join me later for a little... light refreshment?
      Alan: Do you mean anal sex?
      Leslie: ... Yes.
      Alan: ... All right then.

  • Bleak Expectations: When meeting with yet another Sternbeater, the man uses many flowery euphemisms to avoid saying he's a moneylender, but even Pip Bin can tell he's a moneylender (the fact he's wearing a coat made of money might be a dead giveaway, mind), chiming in after each euphemism that he clearly is until the man grumpily admits that yes, he is.
  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: In one interview sketch, Patsy Straightwoman is talking to an actor who cheerfully describes "bumping off" many people in his career. Patsy repeatedly points out that while he is insistent that it's "bumping off" the more accurate term is murder.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound: One sketch taking a lot of potshots at David Starkey has one Channel 4 executive try to dance around the language he used to describe those of Afro-Caribbean descent and the role he felt they played in the London riots of 2012. Another, much ditzier executive cheerfully chimes in with "he called them 'the blacks'".

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: If brought along to the meeting with retired STG agent Saelen Varn, krogan teammate Nakmor Drack will respond to the man saying he "dealt with inconveniences" by telling him to just say he assassinated people.
  • Portal 2: Wheatley in chapter 8 does a self-busting version.
    Wheatley: You two are going to LOVE this big surprise. In fact, you might say that you're both going to love it to death. Love it... until it kills you. Until you're dead.
  • Sam & Max Hit the Road: When you have Sam ask the cashier at Snuckey's for the bathroom keys.
    Sam: My little buddy needs to use the facilities.
    Max: Facilities be damned, I need a bathroom!
  • Star Trek Online has this exchange between Proconsul D'Tan of the Romulan Republic and an uninvited visitor in his office.
    Khiana: Allow me to introduce myself. I am Subcommander Khiana, and I represent... certain individuals interested in the future of the Romulan people.
    D'Tan: Don't patronize me. You mean the Tal Shiar.

    Web Animation 
  • Lampshaded in the Ego Raptor production Girl Chan In Paradise when Yusuke gets mad and starts pronouncing the word fuck with an elongated f noise, only to have Kenstar interrupt and ask if he's about to say the f word. Yusuke's response is "You mean... fuck!" Kenstar then gives a subdued response "Yes, that would be it."

  • Cyanide and Happiness has this gem:
    Boy, I'd love to take her out to dinner. And by "take her out to dinner" I mean dunk the donut. And by "dunk the donut" I mean have sex with her. And by "have sex with her" I mean use my penis on her. And by "penis" I mean staple remover. And by "staple" I mean virginity.
  • Digger: Digger attempts to tell Grim Eyes about Murai's mental problems, but Grim Eyes can't make sense of her euphemism, so Murai cuts to the chase.
    Digger: The ladder goes all the way to the bottom of the mine shaft, but there are no landings, if you get what I mean.
    [Beat Panel]
    Grim Eyes: …I haven't got any idea what you mean.
    Murai: She means I'm crazy.
    Digger: And they wonder why I don't bother trying to be tactful…
  • Ménage à 3: Thanks to Gary's intermittent lack of an indoor voice, when he busts Tracy's euphemism for the second job she does to pay the bills, he triggers an understandable Facepalm.
    Tracy: I do a little, ummmm, crowdfunded R-rated video performance.
    Gary: You're a SEX CAMGIRL?!
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Following Roy's death, Haley tries to break the news gently to his girlfriend Celia. Unfortunately, Celia takes Haley's metaphors literally, so Belkar has to be blunt and to the point in order to explain to her.
    • Vaarsuvius' spouse Inkyrius soon sees through their attempts to describe their Deal with the Devil in flowery terms:
      Vaarsuvius: I negotiated an exchange with three gentlemen from... other planes of existence. ... Those in the ventral position.
      Vaarsuvius: Technically, it is more of a fixed-term lease with an occupancy date yet to be determined!
  • Stuff Sucks has this: "I think she wants to be his buddy. (short pause) His sex buddy. (short pause) If you know what I mean."

    Web Videos 
  • From Bro Team Pill's playthrough of Guns of Icarus:
    "We're gonna need a specialist: Me. Specialized in one-handed cranking, and also beatin' off my stupid dick."
  • Pirates SMP: At the start of the finale on Day 134, upon having to break the news of a fellow faction member's Heroic Sacrifice to Jojo, Graecie tries to dodge the subject by explaining they "had to stay behind", to which Jojo immediately asks if she means it literally or if it means they're dead. Graecie drops the euphemism after that.
  • Ultra Fast Pony:
    • In "The Penny and Clyde Show":
      Twilight: Dammit! Why does everything have to be so hard?
      Discord: Oh, Twilight, if life was hard it would be full of innuendos. [beat] Like my ostrich pe–
      Twilight: So much more information than what I wanted!
    • In "Pirate Shipping":
      Sweetie Belle: [to Cheerilee] So, you got anyone you're going to spend some quality time with tonight, huh, wink wink nudge nudge, you know what I'm saying, right, I'm implying you're gonna have sex.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Joey: Shut up, Tristan! You just wanna get into [my sister]'s pants!
    Tristan: No, I don't. I want to have sex with her!
    Tristan: Oooooooh, that's what you meant...!

    Western Animation 
  • On The Boondocks, Huey cuts right to the heart of Granddad's request:
    Granddad: I went and spent your inheritance on this beautiful house in this neighborhood! And all I ask you to do is act like you got some class.
    Riley: [whispers to Huey] Ay, what's "class"?
    Huey: It means don't act like niggas.
    Granddad: See! That's what I'm talking about right there! We don't use the N-word in this house!
    Huey: Granddad, you said the word "nigga" 46 times yesterday. I counted.
    Granddad: Nigga, hush!
  • Clone High's JFK provides us with many such examples. JFK always feels the need to explain the joke flat out, even when completely obvious. His ego simply requires him to brag about his sexual exploits.
    • "Some of us are trying to nail Catharine the Great. Or should I say 'Catharine the SO-SO!'"
    • "Don't worry, Cleo. I can help you stay up all night long. Notice how I accentuated the words "up" and "long". Now let's bone up for the PXJT test. Guess what the P stands for? PENIS!"
  • In Daria, when Helen gets a week off of work because her boss had to take a break, Daria and Quinn immediately know that their mother's boss is in drug rehab again.
    Helen: Erik is... uhm... "exhausted" and is taking 28 days to, uh, "recuperate". All that espresso he was drinking really wore him down.
    Jake: "Espresso"?
    Daria: To say nothing of those "prescription amphetamine doughnuts".
    Helen: Daria!
    Quinn: So he's on detox again?
    Helen: Quinn!!
    Jake: Oh, right! "Espresso".
  • Family Guy:
    And if you find yourself with some young sexy thing
    You're gonna have to to her with your ding-a-liiiiing...
    'Cuz you can't say penis!
  • A decidedly not humorous example in Green Lantern: The Animated Series:
    Hal: Where's Aya?
    Razer: She's gone.
    Hal: Where is she?
    Razer: She's gone.
    Hal: What do you mean "she's gone"?
  • Kim Possible:
    • When Kim has to take her brothers with her on a mission in "The Twin Factor", she asks if anyone has to do any "business" before they leave the house. Ron doesn't understand it at first until Rufus whispers the true meaning in his ear. After hearing it, he immediately runs back into the house to use the bathroom.
    • In "Ron the Man", Shego suggests hiring Jack Hench, an idea Drakken rejects as too expensive. Shego then proposes a way around that problem:
      Shego: I'll infiltrate his research facility and, you know, maybe I can find some "free samples".
      Drakken: Please! Hench never gives "free" anything. He... Oh, you mean stealing, don't you?
      Shego: Doy!
  • King of the Hill:
    • It once had a new employee at Strickland Propane who would say "That's What She Said" in response to anything that could even remotely be considered a Double Entendre. At first everybody but Hank found him hilarious, but eventually they all got sick of him and worked together with Hank to get rid of him.
      Hank: Don't you wish we could still say words like "meat", and "tool", and "unit", without someone turning it into something foul? Those are our words. I say let's take 'em back!
    • From another episode:
      Coach: Like I tell my gym class, girls can't play sports.
      Thatherton: At least I've found one who can "get it over the plate", if you know what I mean.
      [blank stare from the Coach]
      Thatherton: I'm having sex with her.
      [they both laugh]
      Coach: ...But she's no good at sports, right?
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies: In "The Ghost of Bigfoot", the gang pick up the hitchhiking Laurel and Hardy after finding out they're heading the same place. Hardy tells them that their trip to the hotel is strictly business and that they hope to procure employment as baggage expediters. Laurel promptly clarifies that they're looking for work as bellhops.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "New Kid on the Block" has a double subversion:
    Ruth Powers: Well, I know what you're thinking, and the answer is yes. I want to be fixed up with one of your friends as soon as you can arrange it. After all, Homer, I do have the normal... appetites.
    Homer: Heh, heh, heh... I know what you mean. [pause] Just let me make sure we're not talking about food.
    Ruth Powers: I'm not.
    Homer: Right! Me, neither. [pause] We're talking about sex, right?
    Ruth Powers: Right.
    Homer: I hear you loud and clear.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants, "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost":
    SpongeBob: Squidward! He's... he's... pushing up daisies!
    Patrick: Oh, I thought he was dead.