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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

1
vote
1answer
442 views

Usage and acceptability of the word “queer”

This dictionary.com definition pretty much sums up my understanding of what the word queer is supposed to mean. However, in modern times (at least here in the US, perhap someone else can speak for ...
2
votes
5answers
910 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 ...
21
votes
9answers
42k views

What is the difference between “English” and “British”?

As an American, I naively think of British and English as exact synonyms. I know I'm wrong, but I just don't know in what way. I am vaguely aware that people in the UK hold strong opinions about one ...
6
votes
6answers
12k views

“Told” vs. “said to” somebody

I told him that you hate him I said to him that you hate him I was choosing between these two options, and I can't help thinking about the subtle differences. For example, "I told him ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

Does “gay” necessarily mean male homosexual?

I was under the impression that gay always refers to a male homosexual, though sometimes I see this term used to describe female homosexuals (i.e. lesbians) as well. Is it correct usage? Does it ...
1
vote
1answer
692 views

Is “elder brother” implicit in “brother”?

I just watched a film called Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. I wonder how one knows whether he is an elder brother or a younger brother when he only says that he has a brother and does not ...
8
votes
5answers
9k views

“An awful lot”: Any negative connotation?

Today was my first time I saw people use "an awful lot of" instead of "a lot of". It reminded me of "terribly good", which obviously has little negative connotation. But how about "an awful lot"? ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Use of “brother” in non-family and non-religious contexts

I think the word brother (sometimes spelled brotha or bro) has been used for a long time among African Americans when talking to one another with the meaning of "pal" and not in a family context. ...
4
votes
2answers
992 views

What is a “commodity” when referred to as an adjective to describe a particular object?

When people describe any object (such as a career, or for instance, a computer cluster, etc) and they describe it as "commodity", what is it supposed to mean? According to Wikipedia, a commodity is ...
5
votes
7answers
23k views

What's the difference between “debate” and “argument”?

These words seem to have similar meanings, possibly with different connotations.
3
votes
4answers
623 views

Is “adorable” used to describe an adult?

I've heard adorable sometimes used for kids. Is it ever used to describe an adult?
0
votes
6answers
303 views

What is a gentler word than “suspended” or “closed”?

What word can show that an action is redeemable? Is there a synonym for closed/suspended that connotes a chance at redemption?
0
votes
1answer
79 views

Does “establish” imply a chronological ordering?

The context is actually mathematics, and providing a proof for a particular fact. If one says "... which was established by Smith." does this have the connotation that Smith was the first to do it? ...
9
votes
8answers
858 views

“Software craftsman” as complimentary term for programmer

Is software craftsman a complimentary term for a programmer or is it just neutral?
4
votes
3answers
260 views

Is this usage of “woo” proper?

John doesn't actively participate in class discussion, unlike his classmates. He thinks they act a bit overly and he doesn't like to woo the teachers. Woo has two meanings: Try to gain ...
3
votes
2answers
276 views

Connotation of “complacence”

What is the connotation of complacence? Is it a negative trait? The dictionary makes it seem like a positive attribute.
3
votes
3answers
224 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
903 views

Is “subtle” a positive, neutral or/and negative word?

I wonder whether subtle is a positive, neutral or/and negative word? Looking up its definition, it seems that the word means things unclear for good reason. For example, I  wonder if subtle can ...
1
vote
1answer
88 views

The condition for saying “You’re the door on the right.” etc. and its construction

This question is a spin-off from “Is you’re the door on the right. grammatically correct?” . After the original question, some ideas came to me, about its conditions and construction. I opened this ...
8
votes
2answers
489 views

Would you say that “headhunter” (as in recruitment) carries derogatory connotations?

I’ve seen the expression being used quite a lot in non-English speaking countries by recruiters themselves and I find it a bit odd. Have they chosen the wrong way to be cool?
3
votes
2answers
829 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
425 views

Is ‘eclectic bunch’ trendy instead of simply saying ‘a group of different types of constituents'?

I found the words ‘eclectic bunch’ in the following sentence of a New York Times (July 29, 2011) article reporting increase in foraging in city parks, which is titled ‘Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, ...
-2
votes
3answers
563 views

What are the connotations of “the father of the house”?

What is the meaning but more importantly the connotations for the expression "the father of the house"? Not only in the literal sense, that is, but more for someone with authority, even if there is no ...
3
votes
1answer
200 views

Connotations of “pertinacity”

Does the word pertinacity have positive or negative connotations?
11
votes
3answers
582 views

How much destruction should be in my mind's eye when I picture a city being “sacked”?

I've been reading some early medieval history lately, and much of the narrative, of course, encompasses warfare, which seems to have been almost ubiquitous in those times. Anyway, in these histories ...
5
votes
3answers
9k views

Getting into the Groove

What is the exact context of using this phrase? Is a positive connotation attached to it or a negative one?
11
votes
2answers
5k views

Fine semantic differences between “thus” and “therefore”

I have seen a few Q&A's with this title but none really reflects my question. I am aware both are adverbs and so forth and how they syntactically can be used equivalently, but what about ...
4
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
395 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
649 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
12k views

Word for not knowing about something

I would like to know some word choices (can be a noun, adjective,...) for not knowing about something, with a positive connotation with a negative connotation in a neutral way For example, I ...
11
votes
4answers
17k views

“Plausible” vs. “possible”

I am looking to find the difference between possible and plausible. Here is what Apple's dictionary gives for each word: Possible: Able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

What does a “man of leisure” do exactly? What is the definition and the connotation?

I watched the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit some weeks ago, and have happily remembered a question I had forgotten from it just now. In this dialogue, Mr. Clennam, a dashing and ...
3
votes
5answers
2k 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: ...
18
votes
1answer
24k views

Suffixes for verbification: -ify, -icise, -ificate

The suffixes -ise/-ize -ify -ificate are all used for verbifying nouns and adjectives. What are the differences in meaning/connotation/usage between them? (This is generalising from the ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What are all the ways the British use the word “lovely”? Especially towards pretty girls?

From watching many period dramas and plays set in England, as I like to do, I've become more acutely aware of the British overloading of the word lovely. In particular, I have two questions: What ...
3
votes
9answers
16k 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?
2
votes
3answers
19k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
14k views

“Complement” or “supplement”?

On a site similar to this one I answered a question and the OP made a comment which prompted me to complete my answer in an edit. I called it "an example" but I originally wanted to call it ...
7
votes
2answers
980 views

Does “uncanny” have a negative connotation to it?

Uncanny seems to be the word I'm looking for to describe something, but I'm worried that it might have a negative connotation to it. Does it? What are some words that are very close to having the same ...
1
vote
3answers
402 views

Housekeeping App — does it make sense?

We are providing an app which manages your finances — like a housekeeping book. Our space is limited; therefore, we want to use the slogan "Housekeeping App". Would an English speaker know what is ...
2
votes
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
911 views

Does using the word “crony” necessitate a negative connotation?

I have always heard the word "crony" in the context of acquaintanceships between people exploiting their closeness for less than noble means. Despite its definitions in the usual places as simply ...
2
votes
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do we call snail mail “snail mail”?

Why do we call snail mail "snail mail"? So by default mail will refer to email?
4
votes
4answers
11k views

Meaning of “have an agenda”

What does it mean when someone says he has an agenda? Is there a negative connotation to agenda? If there is, then why and what is a word that means the same thing but has a positive connotation?
4
votes
2answers
289 views

Why is “hopefully” treated so mercilessly?

Is the word "hopefully" unjustly treated? We don't like the sentence: "Hopefully, my ship is just over the horizon and due in real soon now." But we don't mind saying: "Happily, the tree fell on ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

“Destiny” vs. “Fate”

I'm aware a search will turn up many discussions on the differences or interchangeability of these terms, but it would be good to get some answers here with an emphasis on the etymology of the two ...
7
votes
2answers
604 views

How does one use the adjectival noun “l'enfant terrible”?

I have seen this phrase bandied about from time to time, usually in more "academic" works; my problem is that I remember it rarely being applied to children, as a direct translation might imply ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Does “oath” have an implied religious connotation?

In Singapore you don't have to swear an oath in court if you are of certain religions. Instead you affirm that you're speaking the truth: Circumstances under which affirmation may be made 16.   ...