diplomatic cold

diplomatic cold
   a bogus excuse for nonattendance
   First contracted by Mr Gladstone, as being more polite than a direct refusal. Those who wish to keep out of the public eye for a while may contract a diplomatic illness:
    This was interpreted by some as a 'diplomatic' illness, allowing him to dissociate himself from the campaign if it went disastrously wrong. (Daily Telegraph, 1994, reporting on Yeltsin's absence during a Russian attack on Chechnya)

How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms. . 2014.

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