Questions regarding the associated or underlying meaning of a word, in addition to its primary definition

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3answers
21 views

Can you “commemorate” something bad?

Strictly speaking, from an etymological standpoint, there is no reason to suppose "commemorate" should imply either a positive or negative connotation of what is being remembered. That said, it feels ...
1
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1answer
24 views

Usage of “representation” in the sense of being part of a group

Is the following sentence correct and clear? "Elite universities in England are under constant scrutiny because of the low representation of certain population groups, particularly state-school ...
0
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3answers
71 views

What can be an affectionate name for a car? [closed]

People who drive for a living (taxi drivers, delivery workers, etc.) are often fond of their cars and give them affectionate names. These names can stem from the car brand or model (such as a Beetle ...
0
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3answers
61 views

collapse of the soviet union - connotation? [closed]

does "the COLLAPSE of the soviet union" have a negative or postive connotation? I am looking for a neutral expresion. Thanks for your suggestions
1
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1answer
53 views

Talent or knack

I'd like to ask the connotations they have when we say : She has a talent for singing/ playing football/ acting/ painting etc. She has a knack for singing/ playing football/ acting/ ...
2
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1answer
92 views

Does “kowtow” have racist connotations? [closed]

Just wondering if this had its origins in a "questionable' time and should be avoided. For example, if it were used during a time of predjudice against Chinese laborers, or used to refer to their ...
2
votes
1answer
66 views

Word or phrase to describe a sense of (living) community?

The word or phrase should bring the idea of living community to mind. It should be able to be applied to computer systems, as well. In my head, it should be something like ecosystem, which is ...
1
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0answers
29 views

Erstwhile - connotations

This question asks about the positive or negative connotations of the word erstwhile. Erstwhile means former by dictionary definition and as discussed and mentioned on this English Language & ...
0
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2answers
96 views

A trend in expressions with obvious connotation? [closed]

Lately I have seen a lot of wording with redundant terms, like "positive innovation". The word innovation has a positive connotation, we don't use it for new forms of evildoing. Is this a recent ...
1
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1answer
41 views

Does “otherwise” have a negative connotation in this context?

I was wondering whether the word otherwise has exactly the same meaning as if not in the following sentence. I myself think that otherwise will add some negative attitudes toward the sentence ...
3
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0answers
42 views

Another word for “tens” other than “dozens” [duplicate]

I'm seeking another word for "tens" when describing multiples of something fewer than one-hundred. For example: The landlord received tens of applications for the rental home. I don't like the ...
0
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5answers
110 views

Word to describe a sarcastic, condescending tone/remark

I'm struggling to find the most appropriate word to describe the following type of remark (italicized), or the tone behind it: "I wish I could talk to him right now..." "There's this great ...
40
votes
11answers
5k views

Has “hacker” definitely gained a negative connotation?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hacker as: One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a ...
2
votes
2answers
366 views

What are the connotations of a “foot-washing baptist”? [closed]

In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, the foot-washing baptists seem to be painted by Miss Maudie to be evil and to have a strict adherence to the "cleanliness of the soul." When Scout asks Miss ...
0
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1answer
45 views

Yearning without Hope

I was reading Poe and thinking about his work. Then I thought his dark-romantic style seems like a huge yearning without any hope but I was not sure if this is possible. Does the word yearning contain ...
2
votes
0answers
42 views

Connotation of a sentence in a listening material from TPO

(Here for the original audio source (MP3 file). The part in question begins approximately at 2'18'') This conversation is an excerpt from one listening material in a TPO (TOEFL Practice Online) test, ...
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3answers
129 views

What's a similar word to 'precocious' with a positive connotation?

Precocious, per its definition, describes a child in a positive light. But in practice, many tend to use it in a negative way, and I feel the negative connotation outweighs the positive. So even when ...
6
votes
3answers
405 views

What does Macbeth mean when he says his heart is “seated”?

Here's the quote (from The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare): This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, ...
4
votes
2answers
197 views

Does the word ‘hard-boiled’ have a positive connotation?

Upon a quick google search 'hard-boiled' means tough and cynical even though it doesn't say that this is a disapproving term. One of the synonyms of this word is 'hardened' which means 'very ...
2
votes
1answer
168 views

Does 'droll' have a negative connotation?

I'd taken droll to mean something like drily amusing, but without any implied negativity. But I've often heard people say Very droll! in response to something that they appear to find mildly ...
2
votes
1answer
72 views

Connotations of the word “cohort”

Outside of the scientific sense (cohort study), does the word cohort have positive, negative or neutral connotations? The dictionary defines it as a group of people or single companion and it ...
8
votes
2answers
142 views

Is “pseudo” strictly negative?

I'm used to "pseudo" in academic contexts, where the word/prefix has no connotation at all. It essentially means "not genuine": Pseudorandom Pseudoprime Pseudoephedrine Pseudo-atoll I was about to ...
1
vote
6answers
105 views

positive version of tattle

Is there a word that represents the positive connotation equivalent of the term tattle or tattletale ? What I would be looking for is something like the following: Dan tattled on Ken to Ken's ...
0
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4answers
102 views

Is “fatty” a proper word to use?

The most intuitive word to describe a person rich in fat seems to be fatty. However, I'm not sure whether it's commonly used in a derogatory sense in English. Do I need a more appropriate word ...
3
votes
2answers
120 views

Does the word “midget” have any negative connotations? What would be a non-offensive term today?

Midget is a word that is usually not said because it is offensive to the "Little People". In no way am I trying to offend anyone. But my question is, is it official that the word midget has negative ...
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1answer
64 views

What is the difference in meaning of 'monstrousness/monstrous' and 'monstrosity'?

I wondered if someone could tell me what the difference in meaning is of 'monstrousness' and 'monstrosity'? I looked up the definitions and this is what I found: monstrous 1. frightful or ...
3
votes
1answer
56 views

Does using “diminish” instead of “reduce” place an emphasis on the process of reduction?

I have an essay assignment and the prompt looks like this: Without application in reality, the value of scientific findings is greatly diminished. My teacher insists that the use of "diminished" ...
3
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1answer
119 views

What do you think when these words come up: “populace”, “population”, “people”, the “mass”, the “public” [closed]

When would be the best usage of those words? When do we do/don't use it? What is the message conveyed when we use Populace/Population; People/Mass; Mass/Public? 1.Populace vs Population 2.People vs ...
3
votes
2answers
475 views

The phrase “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation [closed]

Is the following statement correct? “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation There are some guys who propose to avoid this phrase without destination. Usecase: a comment under Facebook ...
0
votes
2answers
49 views

What is the denotation of the word 'population'?

I've seen the word population most commonly used in the context of the magnitude of a community or group e.g. "The population of the United States is 320 million". I have also seen it used to simply ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

Does “slight future” have negative connotations?

I'm not an native English speaker and I see this word used in so many different contexts. Does "slight" come with negative connotations? It can be used negatively, but does it default to the negative? ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

Noun meaning “compelling force”

I am looking for a noun that would refer to a compelling force, but I couldn't find a satisfactory one elsewhere. The word I thought of was "compellence," but that has other connotations. The ...
1
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2answers
113 views

Difference between hideous, odious and obnoxious [closed]

I wonder about the difference between 'hideous', 'odious' and 'obnoxious' All three of them share the following definition at oxforddictionaries.com Extremely unpleasant While I know that ...
2
votes
3answers
83 views

“Sensual / likes physical pleasures” without sexual connotation?

Looking for a word or expression to describe someone who's very into physical sensations, liking things varying from climbing, to baths, to working with their hands. "Sensual" is the closest word that ...
0
votes
3answers
387 views

What is the word for “victim” but with a positive connotation?

What is the word for "victim" but with a positive connotation? For example: Bill Gates was not successful just because he was smart and hardworking, he was also a "victim" of good luck. Obviously, ...
0
votes
2answers
93 views

Negative connotation in unremitting

I am a non-native speaker. Think about a man who is sitting beside his wife in a hospital all along. Would unremitting be unsuitable to describe him? The whole night through, the man sat ...
5
votes
3answers
257 views

Could you please do X vs. Could you do X please

I'm an English teacher, and I heard a student say "could you please open the window" the other day. To my ears, "could you please open the window" as a construction sounds exasperated, even ...
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2answers
159 views

What connotations does the word “semblance” have?

Is the meaning of the word "semblance" closer to that of "fake" or that of "illusion"? I mean, does it have the negative connotations that "fake" or "counterfeit" have, or is it something that can be ...
2
votes
3answers
93 views

Conveying the idea of “balancing conflicting interests”

I'm looking for a less wordy way (either single word, phrase or even a metaphor or word picture) to convey the idea of the tension you feel when you have to balance two conflicting interests. Any ...
1
vote
1answer
59 views

Does 'hook up' imply a superficial relationship?

I am a non-native speaker. I would like to express that something happened two years after a character has formed a relationship with a loved one. This is what I wrote: Two years after I hooked ...
0
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3answers
72 views

Is there a general rule that dictates how the connotation of a sentence changes depending on the ordering of its words or clauses?

For instance: "This morning I ate breakfast quickly because the train was late." "I ate breakfast quickly this morning because the train was late." "Because the train was late I ate breakfast ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Connotation of dislike in 'Credit where credit is due'

I am a non-native speaker and I wonder whether or not there is a connotation of disagreement in the idiom Credit where credit is due Would one say this only in a situation where a statement was ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Does the word 'clique' have a negative connotation?

Say I am offering a sharing service where people can exchange ideas and information through a simple interface. Users can start a group conversation and add their friends to interact with. Is the word ...
46
votes
13answers
11k views

Does the term “white lie” have racist connotations?

In his book Overcoming our Racism, psychology professor Derald Wing Sue talks about "unconscious racial oppression" that leads well-meaning White people to say and do things that are harmful to people ...
1
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3answers
72 views

Are there other words whose connotation has changed over time? [closed]

I was writing an essay a while back and my teacher advised me not to use the word "queer" to describe something out of the ordinary because nowadays it is a LGBT related word that wouldn't portray ...
3
votes
1answer
183 views

What's the difference between “surprise someone” and “take someone by surprise”?

"take someone by surprise" is defined as "surprise someone". But then why would you use one over the other? 1a. "She bolted into the room and surprised them" vs. 1b. "She bolted into the room and ...
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votes
1answer
337 views

What’s the difference between determine something and determine on something?

I am uncertain about the terms "determine [something]" and "determine on [something]." These words seem to have similar meanings, but possibly with different connotations. Consider this example: ...
4
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2answers
174 views

Felicitated- pragmatics and connotations

This sentence from a major Indian daily amused me: The mother of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable, who died in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir, was felicitated at the 65th ...
1
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1answer
370 views

What's the origin/etymology of the phrase “regular old”? Does it have a clearly defined meaning?

It seems to me that the adjective phrase "regular old" seems to have a few distinct usages, but a confusing conversation and some fruitless searches as to a specific definition have me coming to ...
-1
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3answers
122 views

Does the phrasing 'ever so' always possess an ironic undertone? [closed]

Well, the question is up in the title. Does the phrasing 'ever so' always possess an ironic undertone? I've seen this wording especially in rather aged literature, as some short stories by Bradbury ...