Ninety percent of English words starting with the letters eu- come from an Ancient Greek word for "good", and euphemism is no exception. The term, first attested in English in a 1656 dictionary, was regularly used by the Greeks to describe the practice of replacing unlucky or distasteful words with a more favorable one. Often, these "euphemisms" even had an eu- in them, like with euonumos ("good name") referring to the "left" and eumenides ("good spirits) referring to the mythological Furies, because those were considered superstitious topics back in the day. The phemism part of the word comes from pheme, which meant "voice" (so, together, euphemism means "good voice"), and that is ultimately reconstructed to the Proto-Indo-European root bha, meaning "to speak".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.