What do you call it when you kill 159,000 turkeys after an outbreak of bird flu? You use the highly euphemistic term ‘cull’. Oddly, ‘cull’ originally meant to select things you want to keep (culling strawberries, culling quotations), but eventually reversed emphasis. A 1964 book on Uganda’s national parks notes: ‘The experimental shooting of hippo – culling is the polite conservation term for it – had begun.’

Related Episode

The Unspeak Dictionary exposes the meaning and historical context behind familiar Unspeak terms while crowdsourcing new terms into a collective database.

Select a term on the left to show its definition, reference links, and alternative definitions

Suggest a new Unspeak term, add an alternate definition or a new reference link

Vote on the best alternative definitions.

Discover related terms in the episode.

Explore various data visualizations that reflect the real-world usage of the selected term

Watch related episode