When I was young, when you got your driver’s license, your parents took you to the local dealership and bought you a used car. And that’s if you were lucky. Today, no one buys a “used” anything, which just sounds cheap. Instead, thanks to Madison Avenue, everyone gets treated to a “certified, pre-owned” vehicle.
Linguistic rebrandings like this have been so successful that they now permeate every industry. For example, say you’re at a restaurant and see “Patagonian toothfish” on the menu. Surely you’d be repulsed, which is why chefs have rechristened this cod “Chilean sea bass.” Yum, yum! Ditto for “junk bonds,” which we now know as “high-yield bonds,” and “taxes,” which has been transformed into “revenue enhancements.” Marketers use such semantics not to deceive, but to emphasize a larger or more specific truth.