I've used the term sugar-coating in certain sense and a user corrected me stating the below.

...sugar-coating usually refers to using less harsh or euphemistic language when describing a situation. "It's not so bad. It could be worse" when in reality "I've never seen conditions as deplorable as these"...

We use the expression sugar-coating for adding the extra nice-to-haves, especially when the time is of the essence. Like creating a POC to ensure protocol compatibility but investing several hours on picking the perfect icons, instead of some generics, to enhance the UX of GUI.

It might be my Swenglish shining through but I've heard this expression being used that way quite a lot, even outside of Sweden (although exclusively in IT context, now that I think about it). Naturally, I wonder if the original sense, referring to coating bitter, medical substances by sweets, might be undergoing a shift. Or if I'm just abusing the language.

In fact, we're using the expression as is, i.e. with English words. Hence my confusion as to its accuracy. Perhaps I should've suspect something, as I've seen that in other circumstances.

For instance, we also use the term overhead fully believing that it means projector. In fact, during a seminar in US, I've been corrected by a Swede who claimed me wrong pointing out that it's called overhead because "the picture is throwed over your head on the blanket" (i.e. light's projected on the white screen, which is usually elevated). And to a Swede, contradicting/correcting someone that clearly is like dropping a nuke. That's how certain he was, hehe. I told him that window and smorgasbord originate in Swedish but not overhead. He wasn't pleased.

1 Answer 1


Language does shift over time and in different contexts, but I don't believe this is the common current usage, at least in British English. "Sugar-coating" means taking an unpleasant thing and disguising it to make it more palatable to the receiver, with connotations that this is well-intentioned but overprotective.

In the IT world, the expression I've come across for adding extra nice-to-have features unnecessarily is "gold-plating", although I'm sure there are many other expressions for it.

  • Exactly what I came here to say Sep 21, 2016 at 23:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .