Euphemisms have been with us for centuries and they have served a useful purpose in covering any eventuality.
Take age for instance. Forget about replacements for those rude words children used to write on toilet walls until the words lost their impact.
The biggest impact on human sensibilities these days can come from using the wrong word to describe someone of advancing years.
Old is not a word people think much about, until they see "advancing years" advancing. Then they try hard to think about something else, or about other words for old that don't sound, well, so "old".
About ten years ago the president of a retirees' organisation told me a newspaper with which I was associated had incorrectly reported on the Year of the Elderly.
"It is not the Year of the Elderly," he said. "In fact, many people get upset at the use of that word." I promised I would pass on the message.
I can recall many years ago some states had Old People's Week until old people objected to the word old.
Then we had a Senior Citizens' Week, but someone said to me he didn't like being called a senior citizen because "it makes me feel old".
At a time when people are fighting racism, sexism and ageism, some communities have decreed their "citizen of the year" has to be someone no older than 65.
What is old? John Ayto quoted American financier Bernard Baruch as saying "old age is always 15 years older than I am".
But whether we talk about advancing years, seniors, seasoned, in our dotage, or in God's waiting room, we can't escape the meaning, try as we might.
Former Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Peterson, when retirement was looming, commented: "Please just call me old when you think that is the right description. But, I beg of you, not retiree."
One dictionary said of old: "Used in a negative way for something not useful any longer." Other dictionaries are a bit kinder.
As for my take on the word "old", how about this: "chronologically gifted?". Well, political correctness has gone a little too far in some respects. I'm open to suggestions.