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

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3answers
2k views

Difference in meaning and prononciation of urbane and urban

I encounter these two words pretty often, both orally and in writing. What is the difference between two, and how to pronounce, say in USA?
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2answers
446 views

Origin of milquetoast and the negative meaning of milk in modern usage

I searched the word milquetoast and found out that it is a very pejorative term used in American English (after a cartoon character- Casper Milquetoast) to refer to someone of an unusually meek, ...
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3answers
328 views

Why the use of 'clock' in the following sentence?

"Bob clocked Joe right in the nose." In this sentence, "clocked" indicates that Bob punched Joe directly in Joe's nose. How did 'clock' come to be used in such a way? Is it colloquial/vernacular to ...
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1answer
252 views

I was able to hear the sound/noise from here?

Given this question: Dude the rock band was awesome. Which one of sound or noise is correct here? Yes, I know — I was able to hear the concert’s noise from my balcony. Yes, I know — ...
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1answer
181 views

Does the phrase that one “keeps their head down” have a negative connotation

Does the phrase that one "keeps their head down" have a negative or derogatory connotation in regards to the person whose head is kept down?
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4answers
718 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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. ...
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2answers
121 views

Does the word “vain” necessarily have a negative denotation or connotation?

I don't really know how to answer my Brazilian students when they ask me how to say "vaidoso/a" in English. The Portuguese word does not convey a bad idea but "vain" does. Or does it?
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4answers
222 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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2answers
185 views

The difference between “heathen” and “ungodly”

My student needed an adjective which means "irreligious" or "does not believe in God/a god." I suggested the words "heathen" and "ungodly". Would you say there's a difference between the two ...
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2answers
315 views

What is the connotation or meaning of “exclusive thinking”?

How should I interpret the expression "exclusive thinking"? The expression "exclusive thinking" is one I've seen in criticism against some views or opinions that are called "exclusive thinking". Is ...
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3answers
176 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?
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2answers
60 views

“Regression” in a positive sense

I'm looking for a word that means returning to the past or embracing old values, but words like "regression," "retrogression," and "atavism" all seem to have negative connotations attached to them. ...
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1answer
141 views

'Animus' — negative connotation?

The Oxford Dictionaries entry for animus reads: [mass noun] Hostility or ill feeling: [mass noun] Motivation to do something: Owing to definition 1 above, I suspect that a negative ...
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1answer
473 views

Does “abstruse” carry a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, does the word "abstruse" give positive or negative (or neutral) connotations? For example, "daedal" and "profound" would generally be considered a word with positive connotations, whereas ...
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2answers
286 views

Does the word “indefatigable” have positive or negative connotation?

Example usage: Terence, you have indefatigable enthusiasm. The effect it has on people is inspiring. In the sense of exuberance, but you feel positively about it.
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2answers
37 views

Is “reform” (v. and n.) losing its positive connotation?

OED definitions consistently imply that this word signifies change for the better. But I increasingly find people acquiescing and joining in using the term reform even when they frankly regard the ...
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1answer
75 views

Connotation of “unzipping”

I'm working a piece of software that, as part of what it does, will extract/uncompress a ZIP file. I'd like to report this to the user by showing the word "unzipping" alone. Will displaying the word ...
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3answers
320 views

Has “freak” always carried a negative connotation?

Many words (such as imbecile and idiot) used to be technical terms or proper names, however, eventually came to be used mainly for insults, and are today considered negative. Has the word "freak" ...
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2answers
299 views

The “only…but” problem

In an effort to clarify my quandary, is it appropriate to use this statement to give condolence: I know you were only trying to help. Or, does only imply that you did more harm than good? It ...
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1answer
521 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, ...
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2answers
68 views

Am I right that “individual” is a little bit pejorative? [closed]

I have feeling that the word "individual" leans a little bit towards being pejorative if not used in an official or formal context. Me not being native to English and knowing it far too poorly, I ...
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1answer
33 views

Which phrase is more common or do the two phrases have different intentions?

Not all people are hard-working. Not everyone is hard-working.
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1answer
104 views

Connotation of “visceral”

I understand that "visceral" with respect to a reaction or feeling is a very intense one. But I haven't found an authoritative source that describes a visceral reaction as being an exclusively bad ...
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1answer
258 views

What is the word for the state of ignoring something?

What is the word for the state of ignoring something? For instance, if I am ignoring you, am I in a state of ignorance? Is there a better word with a less negative connotation?
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2answers
107 views

Is “use” a negative word in the following sentence?

I heard somebody say: I used my mother to find my socks. The moment I heard it, my first impression was that it meant something bad — a rather negative word choice. Then I looked up use ...
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5answers
203 views

Connotatively neutral alternatives to “ignorant”?

The word "ignorant" has a denotative meaning along the lines of "to lack knowledge" or "to not know", but its connotative meaning, by my understanding, is negative. Are there any synonyms of this ...
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1answer
179 views

Connotation of terms regarding one's profession [closed]

I'm wondering if there are more-commonly-than-not held connotations for terms regarding occupation that would differentiate between one's own personal experience in a field versus the description of ...
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1answer
350 views

Does the word “facility” have a negative connotation?

When I hear about "facility" I immediately associate that with a building (like a company's headquarter, store, etc). However, some people say that it can be used to mean a "WC." Is this true? Does ...
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3answers
614 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 ...
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1answer
104 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 ...
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2answers
90 views

Is there any negative connotation to the word SpoonTalk or Spoon [closed]

This is my first question here. It is not exactly related to English usage. -- Providing more details as suggested by John-- I am currently building a Software product and have named it SpoonTalk. ...
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3answers
76 views

What is a term for sarcastically downplaying something?

I remember reading the term for it years ago, but I can no longer remember what it is. It is when someone downplays a situation, usually sarcastically. They are fully aware of the problems of the ...
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2answers
388 views

Alternative word for jealous (without the negative connotations)

I was wondering whether there is a word similar to jealousy but without the negative connotations? For example, if I really admired someone for their memory and wished mine could be as good - however, ...
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4answers
872 views

Difference in usage between “Dependent” and “Reliant”

Based on the comments on a question on another SE site, I'm trying to define the difference between something being "Dependent upon something" and being "reliant upon something". The sentence in ...
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3answers
2k views

Connotation of “proud”

Does the word proud have a bad connotation? I want to use 'proud+something' as a company and website name but I'm not sure what connotation it can have.
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5answers
5k views

Do people perceive a difference between “phantasy” and “fantasy”?

When I started to learn English, I was used to write phantasy instead of fantasy, and I was always corrected. I recently noticed that phantasy is an English word too. Do people give to those words a ...
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4answers
81 views

Non-religious word for “blessed”

I want to say on social media that I am blessed to have my daughter, but I am not religious and find it awkward when people respond saying that they are sending prayers my way. I appreciate the ...
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3answers
125 views

What is a synonym for “controversial” with a more neutral connotation?

When things are described as "controversial," it's usually done with a negative connotation, as in "a controversial new law that many feel restricts their freedom." It seems people tend to describe ...
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6answers
352 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?
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3answers
428 views

Does “dissimulation” have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation?

I tried checking a few online dictionaries and can't get a feel for whether the word is generally used in a positive or negative sense. What is the connotation of "dissimulation"?
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2answers
1k views

Is using “eager beaver” completely benign? [closed]

Person A uses the phrase "eager beaver" to mean an enthusiastic person. Person B chuckles. Basically my question boils down to who the weirdo is, so to speak: A, because "eager beaver" is outdated ...
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1answer
413 views

Does “end up” have a negative connotation? [closed]

Maybe not, as some of the example usages in here, but it still has a negative feel to me. Is there some positive way that can be used instead?
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3answers
368 views

Does “work for someone” ever carry negative connotations?

Can I say that I want him to work for me in the sense that I want him to work at my company? Does it have any negative connotations, like association with slavery or objectifying the person? Is ...
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2answers
164 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 ...
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3answers
389 views

Connotation of “maze” and “get maze”?

Is it correct to say "get maze"? If so, what's the meaning? Also, does "maze" have a bad connotation?
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4answers
2k views

Synonym for “do you mean” without negative connotations [closed]

Whenever I use the phrase "do you mean to say", I notice that the word "mean" has a variety of negative connotations (cruelty, harshness, etc.) Is there any alternative for this phrase that doesn't ...
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3answers
212 views

People who use “no” in every sentence [closed]

I want to know whether using unnecessary "No"s and negations paints individuals with a negative/insulting attitude. Examples from my dear workplace. Example 1: 1: "Hey Eric, today is so warm." 2: ...
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3answers
1k views

'Blowing Dixie double four time' and 'He can play the honky tonk like anything' meaning

in Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" what is the meaning of these two lines: In the first verse: You get a shiver in the dark It's been raining in the park but meantime South of the ...
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3answers
1k views

“Call it a day” — is it positive? [closed]

I'm not a native speaker. Someone told my boss about my work, 'He called it a day'. Is it a rather neutral expression about ending some day work, or does it mean 'he's lazy and didn't finish it'?