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

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0
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3answers
1k views

“Call it a day” — is it positive? [closed]

I'm not a native speaker. Someone told my boss about my work, 'He called it a day'. Is it a rather neutral expression about ending some day work, or does it mean 'he's lazy and didn't finish it'?
3
votes
2answers
900 views

Fox and dog terms as applied to women

My curiosity here arises from the fact that it seems bizarre that "fox" and "dog" (not terribly dissimilar creatures - see Belyaev's fox experiment) would have such opposite meanings when used in ...
7
votes
4answers
535 views

First-rate, second-rate, and third-rate

I’d like some clarification on the use of these three words. First-rate has positive connotations and its meaning is manifest, but the meanings of second-rate and third-rate are relatively muddy in ...
4
votes
2answers
96 views

“the writing is on the wall” vs. “the handwriting is on the wall”

This morning I heard on NPR someone mention that: "The handwriting is on the wall". I had a notion that it was a biblical allusion, which was confirmed by: ...
6
votes
2answers
475 views

A word for something that's done only half-consciously

In writing fiction, I find myself using the word "absentmindedly" a lot, but I don't think it's really the word I'm looking for. I'm not looking so much something done in a distracted manner, but ...
3
votes
3answers
588 views

More precise word or phrase for neutral connotation of racism

Racism in the dictionary means a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own ...
2
votes
1answer
353 views

Connotation of the word “sprezzatura ”

According to Wikipedia, sprezzatura means a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it. ...
2
votes
2answers
279 views

Is there a word for “drab” with a positive connotation?

Let's imagine that I want to say the following, replacing the word drab: This painting is beautifully drab. I'm particularly thinking of when you describe a piece of art. Usually something ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Is using “eager beaver” completely benign? [closed]

Person A uses the phrase "eager beaver" to mean an enthusiastic person. Person B chuckles. Basically my question boils down to who the weirdo is, so to speak: A, because "eager beaver" is outdated ...
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

Why would you want to do that? [closed]

I recently shared with several coworkers that I wanted to go to a particular class. My coworker responded to me with the following question: "Why would you want to do that?" I responded with a ...
-3
votes
1answer
976 views

“Go ahead and head on over to …”

Although I don't really have evidence for this, it seems to me that the phrase "go ahead and head on over to [...]" prevails more and more over simply "go to [...]". This phenomenon is particularly ...
0
votes
2answers
71 views

“Lucid intervals” usage?

Does "Lucid Interval" immediately bring to mind medical disorder? I would like to use it as the title for a blog and I don't want people to be put off.
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference in meaning between 'nonchalant' and 'insouciant'?

OED defines them as: nonchalant adjective (of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm insouciant adjective showing ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Word to describe a sensation of death coming over your entire body?

This is the context where I want to use the word: He closed his eyes. The living did not come to mind, neither friend, nor family—only the dance of death, plain to see. The dancing figures of ...
2
votes
5answers
3k views

Difference between 'Redundant' and 'Superfluous'

(I made a search for this question on this forum but surprisingly did not find related questions. Which is odd because surely this question is asked often.) First, the sentence I'm trying to use ...
8
votes
6answers
7k views

What connotation does “to fork one's repo” have?

In a recent news item, an employee was fired partly for making jokes about "big dongle" and "forking repos", which were alleged to be inappropriate sexual jokes. The employee admitted the dongle joke ...
2
votes
4answers
624 views

Can “famous last words” be used in positive way as a response in conversation?

I came across the phrase, ““famous last words.” I took it literally as the last word delivered by famous people. But Wikipedia defines““famous last words” other than this sense as: used in a ...
2
votes
2answers
377 views

“Crisis”, “drama” and similar words in the news

Today I read the economist headline: On to the next crisis. Automatic spending cuts took effect on March 1st; more drama is to come I startled at the word ‘drama’. It would be regarded as ...
51
votes
14answers
17k views

When to use “nude” and when “naked”

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
1
vote
2answers
301 views

What is the connotation or meaning of “exclusive thinking”?

How should I interpret the expression "exclusive thinking"? The expression "exclusive thinking" is one I've seen in criticism against some views or opinions that are called "exclusive thinking". Is ...
1
vote
2answers
274 views

Does the word “indefatigable” have positive or negative connotation?

Example usage: Terence, you have indefatigable enthusiasm. The effect it has on people is inspiring. In the sense of exuberance, but you feel positively about it.
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

“Take advantage” vs. “make advantage”

I'm worried that 'take advantage' could have a slightly negative connotation. Could you say "make advantage [of a situation]"?
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Has the suffix “-trix” acquired a pejorative meaning in recent years?

A couple days ago I needed the correct word for a female aviator, which I figured was aviatress. A dictionary.com search provided aviatress, aviatrice and aviatrix as acceptable choices. ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

What does the expression “to add another dimension to the situation” mean?

Does the expression "to add another dimension to the situation" imply that the situation has become more complex? In Arabic we would say something like "adds another dimension to the situation that ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

Does the word “newbie” have a negative connotation?

Imagine that I'm running a friendly and informal online business. I would like to introduce my service to the new customers by a blog post that entitles, 'Are you a newbie to XYZ.com?'. Will that ...
2
votes
3answers
704 views

Does “intellectual gymnastics” always have a negative connotation?

As far as I know, “intellectual gymnastics” is used in a negative sense. For example, the discipline of philosophy can be belittled as “intellectual gymnastics”. However, a university in Japan seems ...
3
votes
2answers
139 views

Does the expression “web technologies” have a euphemistic/promotional character ?

In German, I sometimes come across the expression “Webtechnologien” as a direct adoption of “web technologies”, which usually relates to software, programming, web development. I've always found the ...
2
votes
2answers
617 views

Does the term “Methodical” have a negative connotation associated with it? [closed]

It seems to me that the only times I hear the term Methodical in journalism/press are to describe negative people such as killers or psychopaths. I don't believe methodical inherently has a negative ...
3
votes
6answers
2k views

Synonym for “godchild” without religious connotation

In English is there a synonym for "godchild" (or the gender-specific versions) without a religious connotation but without necessarily having other specific connotations? All the words I'm coming up ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

What is the word for “stepping stone” if it is used in a derogatory sense?

I checked the meaning of stepping stone in a dictionary, it was a means of progress What would be the word for stepping stone if I want to use it in a negative sense? For example, He used ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Does “awe” have a colloquial meaning (similar to “awesome”)?

The meaning of awe is given in dictionaries as "an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime" (this definition is from ...
2
votes
4answers
412 views

“Dabbler”, without the negative connotation

According to dictionary, a dabbler is "an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge". I want a word that means a person genuinely interested in ...
20
votes
4answers
7k views

What exactly are the differences between “diligent”, “assiduous” and “sedulous”?

From OALD: sedulous (formal) showing great care and effort in your work synonym: diligent assiduous (formal) working very hard and taking great care that everything is done as well as it ...
1
vote
1answer
250 views

I was able to hear the sound/noise from here?

Given this question: Dude the rock band was awesome. Which one of sound or noise is correct here? Yes, I know — I was able to hear the concert’s noise from my balcony. Yes, I know — ...
1
vote
2answers
283 views

The “only…but” problem

In an effort to clarify my quandary, is it appropriate to use this statement to give condolence: I know you were only trying to help. Or, does only imply that you did more harm than good? It ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What are the connotations of the word “Greetings” when used as a greeting?

What are the connotations of the word "Greetings" when used as a greeting? I am British, and I have rarely heard "Greetings!" used as a greeting in the UK. I associate it in my mind with Commander ...
1
vote
1answer
174 views

Connotation of terms regarding one's profession [closed]

I'm wondering if there are more-commonly-than-not held connotations for terms regarding occupation that would differentiate between one's own personal experience in a field versus the description of ...
5
votes
4answers
908 views

Bless your heart

Is "bless your heart" something only used by old women in the South (all I've ever heard)? Or is it ever appropriate for a man to use it without seeming unmanly? Does the term always have ...
4
votes
6answers
519 views

What does the word “predict” imply?

I am not sure if I could use the word predict in the context of a scientific forecast. Does this word have a connotation of guessing, transcendental belief, or some kind of humbug? And if so, what ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “zealot” have a positive connotation?

A zealot is a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals. I have never seen this word used with positive connotation, but could it (without ...
0
votes
3answers
362 views

Does “work for someone” ever carry negative connotations?

Can I say that I want him to work for me in the sense that I want him to work at my company? Does it have any negative connotations, like association with slavery or objectifying the person? Is ...
0
votes
4answers
2k views

Synonym for “do you mean” without negative connotations [closed]

Whenever I use the phrase "do you mean to say", I notice that the word "mean" has a variety of negative connotations (cruelty, harshness, etc.) Is there any alternative for this phrase that doesn't ...
2
votes
4answers
183 views

Connotations of “anoint someone” as successor

I saw this headline on the BBC today: China anoints Xi as new leader There is one entry in the definition at Google's dictionary which exactly corresponds to the case in use: Nominate or ...
2
votes
1answer
726 views

What's the difference between “vita”, “curriculum vitae”, “maintenance history” and “résumé”?

As far as I know, the words vita curriculum vitae résumé maintenance history all mean a document that includes information about your life and your education that you give a company if you want to ...
1
vote
5answers
918 views

What does the phrase “flip flop” bring to mind?

I need help with the connotation of the phrase flip flop. Let me explain – I am working on a small project that is meant to promote travelling and education through travelling and getting to know ...
4
votes
7answers
2k views

word to describe a person who catches the sexual overtone in a normal conversation

I know there is a word for it — I heard it when I was young. What is the word to describe a person who catches the sexual overtones in a normal (non-sexual) conversation? Here's one example I have (I ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the difference between the adjectives “live” and “alive”?

What is the difference between "live" and "alive"? When would I better use the first and when the latter? EDIT Say, there are several players actively participating in a game and some others are ...
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votes
1answer
1k views

Is it derogatory to call user a punter?

I've been wondering whether it is somewhat derogatory to call a user a punter. For instance, We should encourage punters to participate in the discussions. Update: My apologies — I owe you an ...
3
votes
3answers
560 views

Synonym with positive connotation for “peeping through the door”

She peeped through the door asking for permission to enter. Does peeped through have a negative connotation? If so, is there a better word or phrase to be used in such context?
4
votes
4answers
715 views

How did “kill” get its positive connotations?

For example: She made a killing on the stock market. The comedian killed the audience — they were slain with laughter. Did this meaning develop slowly over time or did some person or ...