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

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2
votes
5answers
100 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
247 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
85 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 ...
102
votes
7answers
9k 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
98 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
30 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
23 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
59 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
30 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
134 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
330 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
64 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!"
0
votes
3answers
74 views

Synonym for rare occurrence but with negative connotation

What are some synonyms for 'rare' or 'unusual' that have a negative connotation. For instance: Enron's collapse was unusual, as the massive financial trickery ultimately bankrupted millions of ...
3
votes
5answers
154 views

Connotations of “inevitable” versus “unavoidable”

"Inevitable" and "unavoidable" have near-synonymous definitions per stock Google dictionary searches, and both words stem from the same Latin root, but I've also seen broad acknowledgement that they ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Connotation of “unzipping”

I'm working a piece of software that, as part of what it does, will extract/uncompress a ZIP file. I'd like to report this to the user by showing the word "unzipping" alone. Will displaying the word ...
-2
votes
4answers
779 views

Does seriously have only sarcastic connotations in this context?

This is the context: Lol! How brave... a down vote with no explanation. Seriously, tell me if I should just delete this. Please! That statement was found to be sarcastic, despite ending with ...
0
votes
3answers
83 views

Something similar to “paranoid”, but with a less negative connotation?

Paranoia is an irrational feeling that people are out to get you (in a bad way). But what's a term or phrase for a situation where it irrationally feels like people are giving you positive attention ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

Connotation of “visceral”

I understand that "visceral" with respect to a reaction or feeling is a very intense one. But I haven't found an authoritative source that describes a visceral reaction as being an exclusively bad ...
4
votes
2answers
80 views

Does the term “abusive” connote intent?

When applied to an individual, does the term "abusive" imply that the individual harbors malicious intent? Similarly, if applied to an action, does "abusive" infer that the individual who performed ...
2
votes
2answers
167 views

Word for someone who is “pretentious”, but without negative connotation?

Pretentious is defined as "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed." What if someone does impress others because they actually do have ...
9
votes
3answers
793 views

Connotations of “quixotic”

Would you say quixotic has more of a positive connotation or more of a negative connotation? The definition for quixotic given by Merriam-Webster is: hopeful or romantic in a way that is not ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Does “exotic” have racist connotation? [closed]

Sometimes you hear people use "exotic" to refer to something foreign to them. It can be a place, music, food, clothes, or even a person. Some people argue that the word exotic has racist connotation ...
0
votes
1answer
66 views

Connotation of the word “pile” [closed]

We would like to start an info-service for programmers and we came up with a name: Code Pile How does it sound for native-speakers? Is it ok?
0
votes
1answer
94 views

Geek vs Geek Out - beyond computers

I am struggling with new usages of the word "geek" or "geek out". In social media outlets, it's no longer confined to computers or technology, but can be related to other subjects including ...
2
votes
6answers
392 views

Connotation of “appease” [closed]

Is "Bob did what he could in his capability to appease them" a positive or negative comment about Bob?
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Bonus points, only negative

If you’re critiquing something, you might say that you’re giving it “bonus points” for an aspect that wasn’t essential or part of your original grading scheme, but you liked and consider to add ...
0
votes
1answer
82 views

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

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
64 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
114 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
189 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
201 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
992 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
233 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
669 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
119 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
573 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
94 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 word-by-word translation of "so called" usually has a neutral connotation. E.g. in the Czech language you may very often find a sentence like this (word-by-word translated from a ...
3
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
1k 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
136 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
4k 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
707 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
919 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
168 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?
1
vote
1answer
795 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
43 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
169 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
2k 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
270 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." ...