Especially around writers and editors, who fancy themselves clear-eyed intellectuals, "euphemism" has a bad name. Euphemism obfuscates, and obfuscation is bad because reality is good because we're tough and we can take it.
But sometimes …
There's a cooler of beer in the entrance to the local grocery store. I might be inclined to have a beer at the store—and I like a daytime beer as much as the next tramp—but I've been discouraged by the advertisement that hangs above the cooler:
Drink while you shop.
Drink while you shop? Surely we can take the edge off that. How about, "Refresh yourself while you replentish your pantry." Or, "A brew while you browse."
Young people in particular—taut muscles and tough meat—overlook the social and psychological need for the occasional lingo-softener. I tried to check in early to a hotel in Wisconsin and the young woman behind the desk said I couldn't yet, because, "Your room is still dirty."
I suppose had I confronted her on her indelicate use of that filthy word, and advised her that I would rather hear that my room is "still being cleaned"—she would have accused me of babyishness, or Victorian primness. But then I'd tell her that if she hadn't talked "dirty" to me in the first place, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
To attendees of his conferences, my old boss Larry Ragan gave a lunch on the first day. On the second day, his brochures advised them, "Enjoy lunch on your own."
Isn't that better for everyone involved than, "No lunch today"?
As we do with "white lies," it seems to me we ought to come up with a separate term for the socially useful euphemism.