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

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557 views

How to call attention to “I” without “I myself” or the pretentious “even I”?

I find that in persuasive conversation, whether written or oral, it is sometimes useful to draw attention to the "I" in the sentence, giving the connotation that you are confessing or conceding to ...
3
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3answers
6k 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
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2answers
263 views

What is the nuance of ‘Slipping’ when you say ‘I started slipping my classes short writing assignments?’

I found an op-ed article titled ‘Teaching to the Text’ in today’s New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/opinion/20selsberg.) interesting as a non-native English learner. However, I stumbled on a ...
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5answers
3k views

What connotation exactly does the word “noddy” have in British English?

I watched a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby the other day, and came across a bit of dialogue I couldn't quite decipher: A character named Squeers: ...
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6answers
3k views

In what contexts would one use the slang word “minging” in British English?

I was watching a Youtube video on English accents, and in the middle of a Yorkshire one, I think, the author of the video used the word "minging", in what seemed to be an insult. So I have two ...
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4answers
228 views

Must an “accident” evolve from human error?

I've been censured for calling the nuclear plant incident in Japan a "nuclear accident". I've never exclusively reserved the word accident only for those things which evolve from or are precipitated ...
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1answer
273 views

What does “undoable” mean?

When something is undoable, does it mean that it has the ability to be reverted back to its previous state or does it mean that it's not feasible? I broke something on my computer and a fix is ...
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3answers
423 views

“Memorial” as a non-sad word?

Can one use the word "memorial" (noun or adjective) without the negative/sad connotation of commemoration of the dead?
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5answers
168 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." ...
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4answers
596 views

Boogie - Negative connotation?

I work in a company which has a product called "Boogie" (for reasons that the original owner knows). The product has been called that way for years in our French Canadian environment. Our few English ...
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1answer
127 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 ...
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2answers
195 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 ...
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2answers
528 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 ...
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3answers
424 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?
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2answers
2k views

“Engagement”, “betrothal” — connotations?

I'm not a native speaker, so frequently I don't know underlying semantic subtleties of synonyms; what connotations they bear, which may be antiquated or very official, which are specific to given ...
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5answers
685 views

Does 'fall in with' always have a negative connotation?

Often people say, he fell in with a bad crowd, meaning that the person happened to form relationships with an undesirable peer group or group of people. Does the term 'fall in with' always ...
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3answers
396 views

Does the word “evolution” connote “upgrade”?

Does 'evolution' means 'upgrade' ? 'downgrade' or just 'gradient'?
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3answers
720 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 ...
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5answers
606 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?
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4answers
2k 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 ...
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2answers
291 views

“Dabble” in a positive sense

Can the word "dabble" be used in a positive sense? As in, A true "master of all trades", he has dabbled in several fields & contributed to numerous scientific advances.
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6answers
256 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 ...
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2answers
290 views

Connotation of “complacence”

What is the connotation of complacence? Is it a negative trait? The dictionary makes it seem like a positive attribute.
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3answers
232 views

Is there any pragmatic implication in ‘Beaky has enjoyed London’ here?

It says on a grammar book that in some cases, the present perfect form has pragmatic meanings. Joan has broken the teapot. (I have to get a new one.) I’ve had a bath. (I’m now clean.) Is ...
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1answer
2k views

Any difference between “Are you done?” and “Are you done yet?”

I see people in movies saying Are you done? and Are you done yet? And I wonder what that the addition of yet might mean or suggest in the second version which is absent in the first ...
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3answers
86 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 ...
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3answers
388 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 ...
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2answers
132 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 ...
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1answer
205 views

Connotations of “pertinacity”

Does the word pertinacity have positive or negative connotations?
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2answers
880 views

”See/wonder if +(a negative)” vs. “See/wonder if + (a positive)”

I’ve asked a similar question about ‘wonder if’ before, but I’ll give it a second try to learn more about a difference in nuance between a negative clause and a positive one. Just look at these ...
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8answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
921 views

Is the connotation of “naughty” always sexual?

Does the word "naughty" always have a sexual connotation if it is used between adults? I'd like to use it in a notification-text of a smartphone app, e.g.: No naughty apps selected, where it's ...
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3answers
21k views

What is the precise meaning of “Pretty Good”?

Once I used "pretty good" as a reply to one of my friends' question "How are you today?", I was under the impression that the "pretty good" will weigh much more than just "good", means "very good" or ...
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4answers
304 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 ...
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6answers
667 views

Which word meaning “someone who kills bad substances” can be used in an ad campaign?

We have an idea to post short ads like "our company is hiring" in company blog posts. The company develops software and one of duties of people we want to hire will be finding, locating and fixing ...
2
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6answers
291 views

Connotation of “appease” [closed]

Is "Bob did what he could in his capability to appease them" a positive or negative comment about Bob?
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3answers
2k 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 ...
2
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3answers
658 views

Does this sound vulgar or have sexual connotations? [closed]

I'd like to ask you to help me clarifying if a brand name sounds sexual/vulgar/queer for native English speakers. It is "I Job You" which is a social job recommendation site. However, we had some ...
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4answers
546 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 ...
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5answers
954 views

When the reader sees the words “foreshadow” or “omen” does it usually mean good things or bad?

I'd like to use a word like "foreshadow", or a word similar to it, as long as the reader will understand what is to come is going to be good. Is the a subjective interpretation of "foreshadow" or ...
2
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2answers
193 views

Does using the word “prefer” contain an implication of “necessity”?

I would prefer you come in and not your friend to get the signature. Above is the sentence in the email I received from my supervisor. I was in another city so I had no choice but to ask my ...
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4answers
4k views

Does “intense” have a negative meaning?

I always thought that intense has a positive meaning, meaning something that has no tensions, therefore an intense activity is actually a fun activity. So, what does intense exactly mean? A few days ...
2
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2answers
153 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 ...
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2answers
385 views

Why is “feminism” good but “racism” and other “-isms” bad? [closed]

Feminism is generally seen as a good thing. It means something or other about achieving equality of the sexes; of treating people of different sexes the same or as well as each other. Racism is ...
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4answers
1k 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 ...
2
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3answers
778 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. ...
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4answers
162 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 ...
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3answers
405 views

Do English speaking people jeer at big feet?

(Harry, Ron, and Hermione were walking through woods at night. Then Ron yelled with pain. When Hermione threw the light over him,) Ron was lying sprawled on the ground. “Tripped over a tree ...
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4answers
2k views

Does “develop” mean “upgrade”?

In my native language, the English word "develop" is translated to "the process to make something/somebody large/strong/big, and etc.; for example: economic development." Does develop mean upgrade?
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1answer
332 views

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation?

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation? I received a comment on my writing style from a mathematician a while ago Why not try for direct active voice and stop trying to ...