What do we mean by the expression “not to mince words”? The New York Times’ Paul Krugman often uses this idiom meaning “to be straightforward and blunt.” The verb mince means “to make small,” and is a linguistic relative of such words as diminish, miniature, and minute. Mincing is what you do when you’re cutting onions into small pieces or diminishing the force of your speech by using euphemisms. This is part of a complete episode.