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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
1answer
47 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
56 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
48 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
37 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
votes
3answers
48 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
331 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 ...
44
votes
13answers
9k 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
46 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
112 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
126 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: ...
3
votes
2answers
79 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
vote
1answer
101 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
votes
3answers
71 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Connotation of 'after which'

I would like to learn whether or not there is any connotation held by the phrase 'after which' when used to start a sentence. I recently read 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

Is 'amenable' a derogatory description of a person?

I'm asking someone for a reference letter, and almost used the word amenable. Looked it up, and definitely hesitated when the definition was "easily persuaded or controlled". I would like to list you ...
-1
votes
3answers
59 views

Verb that means “flutter” without the connotation of control [closed]

I need a verb that describe the phenomenon that occurs when a wing (like those of birds, or, for that matter, insects) is caught in a strong transverse breeze. I was going to use the word flutter, ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Connotations of “hungry for X” and “thirsty for X.” [closed]

Does "hungry for X" have different connotations than "thirsty for X"? I did a few Google searches and found that "hungry for X" outdoes "thirsty for X" by about 250% with most values I tried for X. ...
0
votes
2answers
99 views

“You will die” vs “You shall die?”

Had a discussion about the difference of connotation between "You shall" and "You will"; after discussion I became curious about which would be more appropriate in the context below. The Context: ...
0
votes
4answers
689 views

Non-religious word for “blessed”

I want to say on social media that I am blessed to have my daughter, but I am not religious and find it awkward when people respond saying that they are sending prayers my way. I appreciate the ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

Can “obsess over” have a positive connotation?

I would like to use the verb "obsess over" in this sentence: "Being interested in classical architecture I have always obsessed over Italy." Does this verb have a positive connotation or does it ...
1
vote
2answers
321 views

Does the word “vain” necessarily have a negative denotation or connotation?

I don't really know how to answer my Brazilian students when they ask me how to say "vaidoso/a" in English. The Portuguese word does not convey a bad idea but "vain" does. Or does it?
0
votes
1answer
65 views

Do “ensure” and “assure” invoke legal obligations?

Not sure where else to put this as I did not see a StackExchange for legal questions. Will gladly remove if someone can suggest a more appropriate place. We are submitting a proposal in response to ...
1
vote
2answers
93 views

Am I right that “individual” is a little bit pejorative? [closed]

I have feeling that the word "individual" leans a little bit towards being pejorative if not used in an official or formal context. Me not being native to English and knowing it far too poorly, I ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

Which phrase is more common or do the two phrases have different intentions?

Not all people are hard-working. Not everyone is hard-working.
23
votes
5answers
9k views

Is there a word that means “multiply by ten”?

I'm wondering if there is a word that means to 'multiply by ten'. I'm curious based on my interest in the word decimate, which used to mean to remove a tenth of something.
4
votes
2answers
379 views

What Kind of Connotations are Associated with the word 'Bruv'?

I encountered the slang word 'bruv' for the first time not long ago while playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The word is used quite a lot by a genius scientist character named Gladstone Katoa, but ...
-1
votes
2answers
249 views

What word describes a group of which the speaker is not a part?

I'm looking for a less clunky way of saying "a group of which I'm not a part" or "a group to I don't belong." I would prefer a one-word adjective, so that I could talk about "________ groups." So ...
1
vote
2answers
125 views

Is there any negative connotation to the word SpoonTalk or Spoon [closed]

This is my first question here. It is not exactly related to English usage. -- Providing more details as suggested by John-- I am currently building a Software product and have named it SpoonTalk. ...
0
votes
1answer
208 views

Difference between “ADJ enough to VERB” and “so ADJ as to VERB”

What's the difference between the two structures: ADJ enough to VERB "he is fool enough to pretend like that" "But was their crime great enough to merit a death sentence?" "Apple offers products ...
2
votes
1answer
145 views

Positive term for “curious”

I'm looking for a synonym for "curious" that is undoubtedly positive. "Curious" itself is fairly neutral--it could be interpreted as a good thing, but it's sometimes seen as a bad thing (i.e., ...
1
vote
3answers
181 views

What is a term for sarcastically downplaying something?

I remember reading the term for it years ago, but I can no longer remember what it is. It is when someone downplays a situation, usually sarcastically. They are fully aware of the problems of the ...
0
votes
2answers
145 views

Is 'arrogant' a masculine word? [closed]

I was trying to think of a word to describe a female acquaintance and came up with arrogant, but immediately wanted to discard this as the word itself felt masculine to me. I later settled on ...
1
vote
2answers
231 views

Does the word zealous have an implicit religious connotation? [duplicate]

Earlier today I was describing someone to a friend. I said, "I never realized how zealous he was." I meant for the meaning of zealous here to be religiously zealous. Without an adverb, I would ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Connotations of the word “galore”

I would like to know what connotations the word "galore" carries for native English speakers. I really like the word and it's meaning and have seen it being used in some modern contexts. However, I'm ...
0
votes
2answers
78 views

One-night stand and one nightstand

I was wondering whether the word nightstand has any sexual connotation. If so, are one-night stand and one nightstand the same thing? I do know that it doesn't actually have any connotation but some ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Origin of milquetoast and the negative meaning of milk in modern usage

I searched the word milquetoast and found out that it is a very pejorative term used in American English (after a cartoon character- Casper Milquetoast) to refer to someone of an unusually meek, ...
0
votes
1answer
147 views

Can “extremely professional” have a negative connotation? [closed]

If someone is described as extremely professional, might there be a negative side to it? This is how I would take it in many contexts, and I'm wondering whether it's justified. If some chap at work ...
2
votes
5answers
339 views

A word for extreme care, attention, dedication towards words or a language

I'm looking for a word or a phrase which suggests the treatment of words or a language with extreme care, attention, and devotion -- like on StackExchange for example. I thought of pamper e.g. words ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “talk to the hand” mean?

I saw the phrase "talk to the hand" on many funny stickers which seems like expressing the idea that you want to stop the topic or conversation which you feel uncomfortable or not interested in. But ...
0
votes
3answers
223 views

What is a synonym for “controversial” with a more neutral connotation?

When things are described as "controversial," it's usually done with a negative connotation, as in "a controversial new law that many feel restricts their freedom." It seems people tend to describe ...
104
votes
7answers
10k views

What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...
-2
votes
1answer
384 views

Does the word blackmail have a racist connotation? [duplicate]

I searched for the origin of the word and found out that the reason why it's called Blackmail not a different colour is because black fits the evil nature of the practice. But why is black considered ...
1
vote
2answers
47 views

Is “reform” (v. and n.) losing its positive connotation?

OED definitions consistently imply that this word signifies change for the better. But I increasingly find people acquiescing and joining in using the term reform even when they frankly regard the ...
1
vote
2answers
85 views

“Regression” in a positive sense

I'm looking for a word that means returning to the past or embracing old values, but words like "regression," "retrogression," and "atavism" all seem to have negative connotations attached to them. ...
0
votes
5answers
176 views

Why does 'up' have a positive connotation and 'down' have a negative connotation?

The word up usually has a positive connotation - thumbs up, look up, go up in life - whereas down usually has a negative connotation - look down, go down etc. Why is this so and when did such an ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

What is the right way to say that, “his credit balance is likely to be in deficit” [closed]

I want to say that that 'x' person spends a lot and his credit balance is likely to become negative. "With multiple ...., his balance is likely to be in deficit." OR "With multiple ...., his ...
0
votes
3answers
183 views

Connotation of the phrase “bidding big”

Is it correct to say that a bid is "big"? What connotations does the phrase bidding big come to the average native speaker's mind? Is the phrase, "bidding big" positive or negative? Is it daring or ...
5
votes
2answers
581 views

Is it correct to use “or” in place of “and/or”?

Consider the following sentence: A project is a large and/or complex undertaking. To me, the expression “and/or” seems redundant since in formal logic “or” implies ...
3
votes
2answers
88 views

Don't you do this vs Don't do this

Could anyone clarify, please, what the difference between these two sentences is? I heard an American woman say to her child: "Don't you do this!"