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

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3
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
582 views

Do people really think “muslin” has something to do with “Muslim”?

My boss just floored me with a doozy of an assertion: he had me change someone's password, which contained the word "muslin", because "you can't go calling people Muslims in this day and age". Yeah, ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

What did Steve Jobs mean by “Technology married with Liberal Arts” in his last speech?

The Asahi, Japan’s leading newspaper quoted the following famous closing words of Steve Jobs’ in his last speech at the iPad 2 event in March 2011 in its popular editorial column, “Vox populi, vox ...
0
votes
2answers
166 views

“[Noun] as she is [past participle]”

As an example, I recently came across a blog titled "Software As She Is Developed". I know I've seen that construct before — "noun as she is past participle" — in other contexts. It's fairly ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

“Endorse” vs. “condone”

What is the difference in meaning/connotation between the two words? Is endorse "stronger", more positive? Also, endorse is to endorsement as condone is to what? Is there a noun counterpart?
1
vote
3answers
694 views

Does *tourist* have a derogatory connotation of *inexperienced* or any other meanings in the clip of Ice Age3? [closed]

As a major in tourism, I've already acknowledged that tourists' notoriety among the destination dwellers by taking pictures of anything,disregarding the unwritten rules ... Here I will not go on to ...
2
votes
3answers
855 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Does the word 'gimmick' have positive or negative meaning?

Does the word gimmick have a positive or negative meaning? It is not obvious to me from a wikipedia article. I also would be glad if someone could explain it in two words, not several paragraphs ...
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

Does “due to” tend to have negative connotation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Difference between “due to” and “thanks to” Looks like "due to" usually has negative connotation - a plane crashed due to fog, unemployment ...
4
votes
4answers
33k views

“Naïve” vs “Ignorant”

What is the difference between naïve and ignorant? I want to make sure I understand the proper meaning and connotation of each word. For example, how would you describe a person who makes ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
1
vote
4answers
869 views

Does a claim have to be explicit?

I have heard the claim that a claim must be explicit by definition, but do not see any definition that supports this. An example of how "implicit claim" is used from this Wikipedia page on ...
8
votes
6answers
39k views

'Expired' or 'Passed away'?

When someone dies, do we say they expired or passed away? Does the word expired give any more respect when used? Or less respect than passed away?
8
votes
3answers
5k views

How did the term “Mistress” take on two rather different connotations?

One meaning of the word is "female master." The Latin equivalent would be Domina. Another connotation is "lover." Not quite what one associates with "Domina." Or was there a connection between the ...
3
votes
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Is the word 'consort' still considered an insult in the modern usage?

In Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt says to Mercutio: 'Mercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo.' Mercutio replies 'consort! What, dost thou make us minstrels?... Zounds consorts!' Bloodshed followed shortly. ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

What's the difference between “efficacy” and “effectiveness”?

I usually use the word "effectiveness" in conversation, but sometimes I use the word "efficacy" then self-correct with "effectiveness" . Is there a practical difference between them?
1
vote
4answers
922 views

“Combination” versus “Amalgamation”

I'm looking for the key differences between combination and amalgamation. The differences between their verb forms (combine and amalgamate) is just as acceptable to me. Combination: the act or an ...
1
vote
1answer
623 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
2k 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 ...
23
votes
10answers
101k 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
21k 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
5k 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
1k 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
16k 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
3answers
3k 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
1k 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
44k views

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

These words seem to have similar meanings, possibly with different connotations.
3
votes
4answers
974 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
380 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
103 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? ...
11
votes
8answers
1k 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
329 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
539 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
282 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
110 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
641 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
581 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
696 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
325 views

Connotations of “pertinacity”

Does the word pertinacity have positive or negative connotations?
12
votes
3answers
953 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
17k 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?
15
votes
3answers
12k 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
6k 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
490 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
846 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
18k 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
37k 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 ...