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

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“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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1answer
527 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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2answers
7k views

Why does “love child” imply “out of wedlock”?

The etymology of love child says it derived as a polite form of "love brat" which was used around the 18th century. My question is when two people are in love and they have a child, could you not ...
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6answers
5k 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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2answers
197 views

Does the word ‘hard-boiled’ have a positive connotation?

Upon a quick google search 'hard-boiled' means tough and cynical even though it doesn't say that this is a disapproving term. One of the synonyms of this word is 'hardened' which means 'very ...
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3answers
4k 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 ...
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4answers
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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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6answers
2k 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 ...
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4answers
333 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 ...
4
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1answer
207 views

Connotation of “to expatiate”

Only the online Cambridge dictionary marks the verb “to expatiate” as ‘formal disapproving’. Nowhere else could I find the reference to a ‘disapproving’ connotation, although all the online ...
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5answers
396 views

Referring to my husband as my son's dad?

I received an invitation for a session at my son's (John) school. The teacher had asked us to confirm our attendance for the event. I wrote the following John's Dad and I will be attending the ...
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1answer
595 views

What degree of status does the label “office lady” imply?

I'm wondering whether or not "office lady" is commonly used in English-speaking countries? Does it carry a derogatory sense or stereotype women's jobs like "pink-collar worker" does?
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2answers
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Does “effusive” have a negative connotation?

He was very effusive in his praise of the features. The definition on wordnik shows a lot of words that gives me the feeling that effusive has a negative connotation: unrestrained excessive ...
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4answers
991 views

Does “having” something imply the possession of it?

I'm seriously pained when I hear the word "have" being used in the present continuous to imply possession. Take for example, the following quotation from Wordsmith.org. Read the Etymology of the ...
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2answers
174 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 ...
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3answers
1k views

connotations of the word 'demure'

The official definition of demure is: "reserved, modest, and shy." But does it also imply submissiveness?
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7answers
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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 ...
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1answer
626 views

“Motherland” vs. “fatherland”

What are the different connotations of motherland and fatherland? NOAD defines both as "a person's native country," though it adds "esp. when referred to in patriotic terms" for fatherland. The words, ...
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3answers
891 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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6answers
1k views

Can the word “dehydration” imply “thirsty”? [closed]

As far as I know, dehydration means the condition of a body from which the water has been removed. Can the same word imply that the body is thirsty? Simply put, is "I am thirsty" the same as "I am ...
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4answers
1k views

Is “adorable” used to describe an adult?

I've heard adorable sometimes used for kids. Is it ever used to describe an adult?
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9answers
36k views

The phrase “God willing.”

Does "God willing" have a religious connotation to it? What are some other phrases that mean the same thing but don't have this connotation?
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4answers
1k 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 ...
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6answers
430 views

Ebb - is it right to say “ebb toward”, or does this word have negative connotations

"[company name] is a company of specialists who ebb toward new and innovative technologies.." I'd like to use the word ebb in the above sentence, although the dictionary tells me that it has negative ...
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2answers
551 views

Can you *donate* to a non-charitable cause?

I just had someone insist that a donation can only be to a charitable cause or organization; otherwise, the word contribution should be used. When I objected to "contribution" on the grounds that it ...
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10answers
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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 ...
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3answers
62k 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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2answers
478 views

The phrase “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation [closed]

Is the following statement correct? “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation There are some guys who propose to avoid this phrase without destination. Usecase: a comment under Facebook ...
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3answers
443 views

I am afraid I look servile when I say “please” [closed]

In Korea, when I say "please", others think that I am servile. In English, do I look servile when I use "please" in conversation? I want to know the intensity of the word "please" in servility.
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

Connotations: “sanguine” vs “sanguinary”

I broadened this question after encountering sanguinary. 1. sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation: 2. sanguinary {archaic}: involving ...
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4answers
1k views

“Tomboy” but in reverse

The word "tomboy" is used to express the idea of a girl who behaves in a boyish manner. It's not usually considered a negative term, or at least not very negative, and generally just means the girl ...
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2answers
352 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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4answers
236 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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3answers
542 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
684 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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3answers
1k 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 ...
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5answers
940 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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6answers
4k 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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1answer
538 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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3answers
737 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
2k 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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4answers
837 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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3answers
623 views

Does the word “evolution” connote “upgrade”?

Does 'evolution' means 'upgrade' ? 'downgrade' or just 'gradient'?
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2answers
120 views

Does the word “midget” have any negative connotations? What would be a non-offensive term today?

Midget is a word that is usually not said because it is offensive to the "Little People". In no way am I trying to offend anyone. But my question is, is it official that the word midget has negative ...
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4answers
562 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 ...
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4answers
6k 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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3answers
319 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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2answers
374 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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1answer
278 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 ...