The Economist has a priceless article on euphemisms, which correctly cites the British as masters of the craft:
British newspaper obituaries are a rich seam: nobody likes to speak ill of the dead, yet many enjoy a hint of the truth about the person who has â€œpassed awayâ€. A drunkard will be described as â€œconvivialâ€ or â€œcheeryâ€. Unbearably garrulous is â€œsociableâ€ or the dread â€œebullientâ€; â€œlively witâ€ means a penchant for telling cruel and unfunny stories. â€œAustereâ€ and â€œreservedâ€ mean joyless and depressed. Someone with a foul temper â€œdid not suffer fools gladlyâ€. The priapic will have â€œenjoyed female companyâ€; nymphomania is â€œnotable vivacityâ€. Uncontrollable appetites of all sorts may earn the ultimate accolade: â€œHe lived life to the full.â€…[Others euphemisms include] â€œa confirmed bachelorâ€ (a homosexual) and â€œburdened by occasional irregularities in his private lifeâ€ (leaving the reader guessing whether the problem was indecent exposure, adultery or cross-dressing).
Among my British favorites is “bless him”, meaning that he’s an idiot. “After we introduced some complex new accounting software here at the firm we felt that Roger, bless him, should pursue other opportunities better suited to his abilities”.
And I love the way investigations of obviously guilty criminal suspects are described by British newsreaders, e.g., “100,000 pounds have gone missing from the Birmingham Central Bank. A man was seen leaving the bank carrying a large bag with the words ‘Birmingham Central Bank’ printed on it, in which there were 100,000 pounds. The man is now assisting police with their inquiry”.