Sugar coating

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In general, sugar coating refers to any process whereby something which tastes bad (and is therefore difficult to swallow) is concealed within something pleasant-tasting. The original example is a bitter-tasting pill literally coated with a sugary substance, as commemorated by the song "Just a Spoonful of Sugar" in the Walt Disney movie version of Mary Poppins.

In the context of ethics and rhetoric, "sugar coating" usually refers to an unpleasant fact or detail surrounded by allusions to more pleasant things.


  • Fictional:
    • In the Night Watch story arc of Babylon 5, the recruiter sugar-coats certain requirements for joining the Night Watch, thus making them seem insignificant by comparison with the perks offered. These requirements later turn out to be more significant than they seemed.

Notes for Expansion

  • There must be hundreds of real historical examples which would make the point better; I just can't think of them at the moment. --Woozle 16:03, 8 Jul 2005 (CDT)