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

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4
votes
3answers
290 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
419 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
255 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
1k 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
101 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
559 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
1k 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
500 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
618 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
268 views

Connotations of “pertinacity”

Does the word pertinacity have positive or negative connotations?
11
votes
3answers
752 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
13k 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?
13
votes
2answers
8k 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
5k 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
439 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
756 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
15k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
26k 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
5k 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
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: ...
18
votes
1answer
32k 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
2answers
2k 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
23k 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
30k 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
6answers
21k 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
1k 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
435 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
6k 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
1k 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
202 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
15k 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
324 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
4k 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
735 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.   ...
3
votes
3answers
652 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
votes
2answers
310 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.
1
vote
4answers
490 views

“Major location” versus “primary location”

I have a requirement that includes references to "major" and "minor" locations (referring to one main location and less significant ones). I have a feeling that "primary" and "secondary" are more ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I interpret the meaning of “narrative” in different situations?

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the meaning of "narrative" is defined as: A description of events, especially in a novel. The act, process or skill of telling a story. ...
2
votes
1answer
238 views

To 'know' a person — online versus in person

I searched and couldn't find anything — though that surprises me. It feels like there are hard to express differences between knowing a person in real life - people I work with, people I went to ...
1
vote
4answers
776 views

What's the difference between 'fallacy' and 'misnomer'? [closed]

In which contexts the usage vary?
5
votes
3answers
425 views

What is the difference (in terms of usage and connotation) between “loath” and “loathe”?

I'm having difficulty in understanding the differences in usage (and understanding which one is used from pronunciation/context) between "loathe" and "loath" - could anyone help clarify it ?
4
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
749 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Does “uxorious” have sexual connotations?

I understand the literal meaning of uxorious, but does it have sexual implications? That is, does it just mean that one is excessively devoted to one’s wife, or does it imply excessive sexual ...
3
votes
4answers
231 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
292 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
175 views

Meaning of 'authenticity'

As I am dubious of your authenticity here (a mailing list), I cannot spend any time with you Is he dubious that I'm not a real user or I'm not a expert?
4
votes
3answers
19k views

“to a degree” vs. “to an extent”

Is there a measurable difference in meaning between the phrases "to a degree" and "to an extent" (or "to some degree" and "to some extent")? Examples: To [some degree / some extent] that is a ...