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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
1answer
49 views

Can parents “educate” their children? Or only teachers? [on hold]

Many of my Asian students who are learning English say that parents can "educate" their children. However I'm not sure if this is a correct collocation in English. My understanding of "education" is ...
-4
votes
0answers
37 views

Are children considered part of “society”? [on hold]

According to the English definition of society, are children considered a part of it? In many Asian cultures it is believed that one only "enters society" once one becomes an adult and finishes ...
2
votes
1answer
43 views

Is this a correct usage of “gravitas”? [closed]

The word gravitas is usually used in reference to a human quality. Can it also be used correctly in the following example? The use of the time-worn stones for the steps gives an instant air of ...
1
vote
1answer
73 views

'Animus' — negative connotation?

The Oxford Dictionaries entry for animus reads: [mass noun] Hostility or ill feeling: [mass noun] Motivation to do something: Owing to definition 1 above, I suspect that a negative ...
1
vote
3answers
85 views

Why the use of 'clock' in the following sentence?

"Bob clocked Joe right in the nose." In this sentence, "clocked" indicates that Bob punched Joe directly in Joe's nose. How did 'clock' come to be used in such a way? Is it colloquial/vernacular to ...
2
votes
5answers
62 views

synonyms for 'professional'

I am looking for a synonym for the adjective "professional" as it is sometimes used to mean "of high quality" or "projecting confidence & skill" when describing the perception of a group of people ...
3
votes
10answers
719 views

Is there an adjective for someone who can withstand ridicule?

I've been searching both my mind and several thesauruses attempting to find the adjective that best describes this type of person. The term "thick-skinned" is the closest to what I am trying to ...
0
votes
2answers
54 views

Connotations of “have you ever thought about…”

I recently had an argument with a friend around the question "have you ever thought about something?" The question was asked in the context of exploring some life possibilities, such as buying a ...
3
votes
5answers
406 views

Is the word “classless” neutral in its implication, or does it have a derogatory tone?

I was drawn to the word, “classless” in Carolyn Hax’s answer to a reader in the counseling corner of Washington Post (June 7), which comes under the title, “How do you get back at a loudmouth? By ...
1
vote
4answers
41 views

Non positively connoted synonym for “highlights”

I'm producing a monthly report that put forward a selection of ten particular cases out of 70 individual entries. I filter for the 5 best and 5 worst cases according to various indicators. The idea ...
6
votes
3answers
441 views

Connotations of Letter 'X'

In the English language, the letter X has a connotation of mystery, intrigue, or excitement. Examples: Planet X: A theoretical planet of mysterious origin, or an unknown planet. [Edit: Bad example, ...
-1
votes
1answer
75 views

“Putative” vs. “surrogate” [closed]

How similar or different is "putative" to "surrogate"? The term "surrogate father" is common, "putative father" is fairly so, too. But what may be the difference in connotation?
43
votes
12answers
5k views

Does “so called” have a negative connotation in English?

In some languages the literal translation of "so called" usually has a neutral connotation. E.g. in the Czech language you may very often find a sentence like this (literally translated from a Czech ...
3
votes
3answers
344 views

Can “the chickens have come home to roost” have positive as well as negative connotations?

In answering a recent EL&U question (Idiom for the phrase "someone who gets what he deserved"), I cited the phrase "The chickens have come home to roost," and said that it "applies ...
2
votes
5answers
546 views

A positive word for 'opportunist'

The word opportunist seems to be used negatively for a person. Is there a word with the same but positive meaning?
0
votes
3answers
101 views

People who use “no” in every sentence [closed]

I want to know whether using unnecessary "No"s and negations paints individuals with a negative/insulting attitude. Examples from my dear workplace. Example 1: 1: "Hey Eric, today is so warm." 2: ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a non-romantic phrase for missing someone? [closed]

The phrase "I miss you" can be equivocal: suggestive of (a) romantic longing and/or (b) regret of loss. Certainly, context can shape its meaning, including geography, historical period, and the ...
3
votes
6answers
200 views

A word similar to pride (without it's troublesome patronizing connotations)

I frequently want to express a feeling of pleasure to be associated with someone who is doing something exceptional. The phrase that comes to mind is, "I'm proud of you," but I am troubled by a ...
0
votes
3answers
270 views

'Blowing Dixie double four time' and 'He can play the honky tonk like anything' meaning

in Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" what is the meaning of these two lines: In the first verse: You get a shiver in the dark It's been raining in the park but meantime South of the ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

“Languorous” versus “languid”

"Languorous" and "languid" have similar meanings. Are there any subtle differences in usage, due to connotation perhaps, that make one more suitable than the other under certain circumstances?
0
votes
1answer
114 views

“Fast” vs “Quickly” vs “Speedy” vs “Rapidly”

A similar question has been asked. However, is it possible to give (general) differences in usage of fast, quickly, speedy and rapidly? And with respect to the top answer: Are quick and fast ...
-1
votes
2answers
39 views

Does “get a diagnosis” imply you think the result will be positive?

If x said to someone I want to get a diagnosis for Parkinson's Does that imply that x already believes they have Parkinson's and want confirmation, or does it just imply that x wants a result no ...
3
votes
3answers
74 views

What are some synonyms for “mindbody” or “psychosomatic”?

I'm open to synonyms for "mindbody" either as a noun (the combination of mind and body as one unit) or as an adjective (e.g. "psychosomatic" or "psychogenic"). But I can't have "psycho" in the term ...
5
votes
12answers
991 views

Is there a non-derogatory synonym for “propaganda”?

Is there a non-derogatory synonym for propaganda? Specifically, I’m talking about a word to describe the sum of all messages a particular political member has broadcast (through various media), but ...
3
votes
5answers
160 views

Do readers think of the word “ejaculate” beyond its common sexual meaning? [closed]

I am an editor, and a poet whom I work with has included the expression "I ejaculated little prayers" in one of his stanzas, which we all know has the dictionary meaning of "intensely calling out." ...
1
vote
2answers
127 views

Alternative word for jealous (without the negative connotations)

I was wondering whether there is a word similar to jealousy but without the negative connotations? For example, if I really admired someone for their memory and wished mine could be as good - however, ...
3
votes
1answer
115 views

“Buy the farm” meaning

In Alice Cooper’s song “Hey Stoopid” from his 1991 album, there is a verse that runs like this: Now I know you’ve been kicked around. You ain’t alone in this ugly town. You stick a needle ...
1
vote
3answers
115 views

Has “freak” always carried a negative connotation?

Many words (such as imbecile and idiot) used to be technical terms or proper names, however, eventually came to be used mainly for insults, and are today considered negative. Has the word "freak" ...
2
votes
3answers
179 views

Is there a difference between “less ambiguous” and “more unambiguous”?

Relevant examples: If you make the following changes your sentence will be less ambiguous. If you make the following changes your sentence will be more unambiguous. Do these sentences have ...
1
vote
1answer
101 views

What is the word for the state of ignoring something?

What is the word for the state of ignoring something? For instance, if I am ignoring you, am I in a state of ignorance? Is there a better word with a less negative connotation?
2
votes
1answer
111 views

Is there a word that means English-Language-Centric?

There was an argument about how someone spelled "Revolution" and they said "No, I did not write it incorrectly. I used the Spanish version: 'Revuloción' without the accented o to make my life a little ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Connotation of term autodidact

I would like to know if autodidact has a positive, negative, or neutral connotation behind it. These questions asking about usage imply: A neutral connotation: Autodidactic as a Verb What would ...
1
vote
4answers
114 views

Does “nattering” have a negative connotation?

I hear people saying that they're "having a natter" with their friends, or 'If you want to have a natter about starting a project, give me a call!'. On different websites there are different ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
3
votes
2answers
176 views

Does “moonlighting” have a negative or neutral connotation?

We all agree that "moonlighting" denotes having a second job. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford Advanced Learner's don't define it in exactly the same way. For example, Merriam-Webster attaches a ...
1
vote
2answers
83 views

Is “use” a negative word in the following sentence?

I heard somebody say: I used my mother to find my socks. The moment I heard it, my first impression was that it meant something bad — a rather negative word choice. Then I looked up use ...
2
votes
6answers
761 views

What is the neutral way of telling someone to “do whatever you want”?

Do whatever you want This sentence can carry a negative tone (highly probable). Making it sound that someone is fed-up and/or simply doesn't care. Especially after one has had a heated ...
0
votes
2answers
102 views

Does “eschew” have negative connotations?

For example, in the sentence: He eschewed his father's profession. does this have the implication that he found it somewhat repugnant, or does it just mean he decided it wasn't for him?
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Are there racial overtones for the term thug?

Some of us have seen the Richard Sherman pre-SuperBowl interviews where he accuses the media of racism by using the term "thug" to describe him/his actions. He suggests that it is being used to ...
2
votes
2answers
136 views

Connotation of “sanguine” vs “sanguinary”

I've recast this question after lighting upon sanguinary. sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation: sanguinary (archaic): involving or ...
-1
votes
1answer
87 views

What are the differences between, and the connotations of, “flag”, “banner”, and “standard”?

See also: Difference between "banner" and "flag". I would like to know about standard, too. What would you say are the differences between the three words?
1
vote
2answers
96 views

The difference between “heathen” and “ungodly”

My student needed an adjective which means "irreligious" or "does not believe in God/a god." I suggested the words "heathen" and "ungodly". Would you say there's a difference between the two ...
4
votes
4answers
828 views

What are the connotations of “there” in “hello/hi there”

I'm an ESL speaker and I'm not completely familiar with the underlying meaning conveyed when adding there to a greeting such as Hello there compared to just Hello (punctuation omitted for ...
1
vote
5answers
152 views

Connotatively neutral alternatives to “ignorant”?

The word "ignorant" has a denotative meaning along the lines of "to lack knowledge" or "to not know", but its connotative meaning, by my understanding, is negative. Are there any synonyms of this ...
2
votes
3answers
139 views

Difference between “infirmary” and “sick-bay”?

What's the difference between "infirmary" and "sick-bay"? Are they completely synonymous?
2
votes
1answer
247 views

Why does the *dirty* in *dirty mind* refer to sex instead of any type of immoral thought?

Why does the dirty in dirty mind refer to sexual-related thoughts instead of any type of immoral thought (including ill will or malice against another)?
181
votes
36answers
74k views

Is there a non-sexual phrase for sleeping with someone?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
0
votes
3answers
294 views

Does “dissimulation” have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation?

I tried checking a few online dictionaries and can't get a feel for whether the word is generally used in a positive or negative sense. What is the connotation of "dissimulation"?
0
votes
3answers
208 views

How acceptable is “asinine”

The relation between asinine and ass is pretty apparent, and I know that ass isn't a very acceptable word, but is asinine? If it were used in an essay for school or during discussion would it be ...
1
vote
1answer
313 views

Does “abstruse” carry a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, does the word "abstruse" give positive or negative (or neutral) connotations? For example, "daedal" and "profound" would generally be considered a word with positive connotations, whereas ...