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

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1answer
220 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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5answers
349 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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2answers
416 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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1answer
41 views

Does “otherwise” have a negative connotation in this context?

I was wondering whether the word otherwise has exactly the same meaning as if not in the following sentence. I myself think that otherwise will add some negative attitudes toward the sentence ...
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1answer
62 views

Does “slight future” have negative connotations?

I'm not an native English speaker and I see this word used in so many different contexts. Does "slight" come with negative connotations? It can be used negatively, but does it default to the negative? ...
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2answers
179 views

“You will die” vs “You shall die?”

Had a discussion about the difference of connotation between "You shall" and "You will"; after discussion I became curious about which would be more appropriate in the context below. The Context: ...
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2answers
93 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
86 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
662 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
978 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
696 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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1answer
401 views

What's the origin/etymology of the phrase “regular old”? Does it have a clearly defined meaning?

It seems to me that the adjective phrase "regular old" seems to have a few distinct usages, but a confusing conversation and some fruitless searches as to a specific definition have me coming to ...
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2answers
125 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
59 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
317 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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2answers
150 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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1answer
245 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
432 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
845 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
117 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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1answer
24 views

Usage of “representation” in the sense of being part of a group

Is the following sentence correct and clear? "Elite universities in England are under constant scrutiny because of the low representation of certain population groups, particularly state-school ...
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0answers
33 views

Erstwhile - connotations

This question asks about the positive or negative connotations of the word erstwhile. Erstwhile means former by dictionary definition and as discussed and mentioned on this English Language & ...
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2answers
263 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
296 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
2k 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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5answers
2k 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
3k 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
6k 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
4k 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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6answers
449 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
523 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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3answers
73 views

What can be an affectionate name for a car? [closed]

People who drive for a living (taxi drivers, delivery workers, etc.) are often fond of their cars and give them affectionate names. These names can stem from the car brand or model (such as a Beetle ...
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3answers
679 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
2k 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
598 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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5answers
122 views

Word to describe a sarcastic, condescending tone/remark

I'm struggling to find the most appropriate word to describe the following type of remark (italicized), or the tone behind it: "I wish I could talk to him right now..." "There's this great ...
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3answers
583 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
171 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
557 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
3k 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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4answers
106 views

Is “fatty” a proper word to use?

The most intuitive word to describe a person rich in fat seems to be fatty. However, I'm not sure whether it's commonly used in a derogatory sense in English. Do I need a more appropriate word ...
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3answers
518 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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2answers
420 views

Does “eschew” have negative connotations?

For example, in the sentence: He eschewed his father's profession. does this have the implication that he found it somewhat repugnant, or does it just mean he decided it wasn't for him?
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3answers
5k 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'?
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1answer
3k views

“Take advantage” vs. “make advantage”

I'm worried that 'take advantage' could have a slightly negative connotation. Could you say "make advantage [of a situation]"?
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1answer
46 views

Yearning without Hope

I was reading Poe and thinking about his work. Then I thought his dark-romantic style seems like a huge yearning without any hope but I was not sure if this is possible. Does the word yearning contain ...
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3answers
147 views

What's a similar word to 'precocious' with a positive connotation?

Precocious, per its definition, describes a child in a positive light. But in practice, many tend to use it in a negative way, and I feel the negative connotation outweighs the positive. So even when ...
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2answers
50 views

What is the denotation of the word 'population'?

I've seen the word population most commonly used in the context of the magnitude of a community or group e.g. "The population of the United States is 320 million". I have also seen it used to simply ...
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1answer
58 views

Noun meaning “compelling force”

I am looking for a noun that would refer to a compelling force, but I couldn't find a satisfactory one elsewhere. The word I thought of was "compellence," but that has other connotations. The ...
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3answers
82 views

Is there a general rule that dictates how the connotation of a sentence changes depending on the ordering of its words or clauses?

For instance: "This morning I ate breakfast quickly because the train was late." "I ate breakfast quickly this morning because the train was late." "Because the train was late I ate breakfast ...