pink mist

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Dec 31 01:09:56 UTC 2005

A column in the Australian newspaper The Age entitled "The battlefield
of language" (on "rendition" and other war-related euphemisms)
mentions a gruesome one I hadn't heard before...

Age correspondent Paul McGeough in a report from Iraq in 2003 wrote:
"Some of the photographers use a chilling term they picked up from the
US military in Afghanistan to describe what might have happened to a
dozen or more people thought to have died in this missile attack. They
have become 'pink mist'."

Looks like it goes back at least to the first Iraq war, as in this UPI
story from Jan. 27, 1991:

They might not have to egg-walk across booby-trapped earth with
magnetic mine detectors and wooden pikes, probing for buried
explosives that would vaporize them into what one Marine instructor
called "that big pink mist.''

The expression also appears in _Jarhead_, both the movie and the book.

--Ben Zimmer

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