Mince Words


What does Mince Words mean?

Mince words refers to a popular idiomatic phrase, used for describing someone attempting to double-speak, or tell of a subject as vaguely and indirectly as possible.

Not to be confused with minced oaths like What the Heck? or Geez Louise, “mince words” is mostly used in a negative sense, in a similar sense to But I Digress.


What's the origin of Mince Words?

Although its exact origins are not known, the phrase has been actively used in the anglosphere since the 1540’s, where it was predominantly used as a way of saying something uncomfortable in a polite manner.

Over the centuries, however, the meaning of “Mince words” has shifted to a more pejorative one, where it conveys something more along the line of wasting one’s breath.

The first documented instance in the phrase’s current sense can be linked to Benjamin Disraeli who featured it in his 1826 publication Vivian Grey.

Spread & Usage

How did Mince Words spread?

Over the following centuries, the expression became a widely recognized phrase, with many using it either in its positive or negative form.

“Mince words” remains to be used today, and it was first defined on Urban Dictionary on December 22nd, 2007.

External resources

More interesting stuff