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Etymology-wise, it purportedly means "sweet-speaking"; nowadays it describes speakers who sugar-coat harsh realities; what hyphenated phrase is it?

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Answer: mealy-mouthed

The term mealy-moutheddescribes speakers who perpetually euphemize harsh realities. Its derivation is in dispute. Some believe that it comes from the Old English milisc , sweet. Others claim that it comes from the German phrase Mehl im Maule behalten, to carry meal in the mouth.


...both double-speak and politically-correct seem to fit the above definition as well
Krisgah at

"Milisc" meaning sweet, eh? Inetresting... The Irish "milis" (pronounced "millish"), also meaning sweet, must be a close relation.
clooneman at

Might it not be related to the french miel, for honey?
lmarik at

A tomato can be mealy. I thought the phrase you were looking for was "weasel-worded".
susanleaton at

Sugar in Danish is either "sukker" or "melis", the latter related to "molasses". But are these words cognate with "meal" (breakfast, dinner etc.) or the German "Mehl" (flour)? There is an Indoeuropean root (mel- or something like that) found in words for honey in several languages: melitta/melissa is bee in Greek, mel is honey in Latin.
nielshovmoller at

It also might have a connection to the spanish word for honey or syrup "miel".
michael.escher at

Besides being related to miel, it's also related to the Russian word for honey, myod, and to the Old English mead. But mealy-mouthed sounds so harsh; I prefer mellifluous.
jacko at

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