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

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2
votes
7answers
802 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
5answers
3k views

Cultural connotation of American English — some examples?

I am from India and we speak English there as well, albeit not as culturally refined as I see in the US. In India, and perhaps in the UK, English is spoken in a straight and 'as it is' manner. For ...
40
votes
13answers
9k views

Does the term “white lie” have racist connotations?

In his book Overcoming our Racism, psychology professor Derald Wing Sue talks about "unconscious racial oppression" that leads well-meaning White people to say and do things that are harmful to people ...
14
votes
3answers
988 views

Does the word 'clique' have a negative connotation?

Say I am offering a sharing service where people can exchange ideas and information through a simple interface. Users can start a group conversation and add their friends to interact with. Is the word ...
212
votes
38answers
84k views

Is there a non-sexual phrase for sleeping with someone?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
-1
votes
1answer
344 views

What are the differences between, and the connotations of, “flag”, “banner”, and “standard”?

See also: Difference between "banner" and "flag". I would like to know about standard, too. What would you say are the differences between the three words?
0
votes
3answers
34 views

Are there other words whose connotation has changed over time? [closed]

I was writing an essay a while back and my teacher advised me not to use the word "queer" to describe something out of the ordinary because nowadays it is a LGBT related word that wouldn't portray ...
8
votes
6answers
17k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
9k views

What exactly are the differences between “diligent”, “assiduous” and “sedulous”?

From OALD: sedulous (formal) showing great care and effort in your work synonym: diligent assiduous (formal) working very hard and taking great care that everything is done as well as it ...
3
votes
1answer
88 views

What's the difference between “surprise someone” and “take someone by surprise”?

"take someone by surprise" is defined as "surprise someone". But then why would you use one over the other? 1a. "She bolted into the room and surprised them" vs. 1b. "She bolted into the room and ...
-1
votes
1answer
89 views

What’s the difference between determine something and determine on something?

I am uncertain about the terms "determine [something]" and "determine on [something]." These words seem to have similar meanings, but possibly with different connotations. Consider this example: ...
7
votes
4answers
685 views

First-rate, second-rate, and third-rate

I’d like some clarification on the use of these three words. First-rate has positive connotations and its meaning is manifest, but the meanings of second-rate and third-rate are relatively muddy in ...
3
votes
2answers
53 views

Felicitated- pragmatics and connotations

This sentence from a major Indian daily amused me: The mother of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable, who died in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir, was felicitated at the 65th ...
1
vote
1answer
62 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 ...
-1
votes
3answers
66 views

Does the phrasing 'ever so' always possess an ironic undertone? [closed]

Well, the question is up in the title. Does the phrasing 'ever so' always possess an ironic undertone? I've seen this wording especially in rather aged literature, as some short stories by Bradbury ...
0
votes
1answer
28 views

Connotation of 'after which'

I would like to learn whether or not there is any connotation held by the phrase 'after which' when used to start a sentence. I recently read 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Is 'amenable' a derogatory description of a person?

I'm asking someone for a reference letter, and almost used the word amenable. Looked it up, and definitely hesitated when the definition was "easily persuaded or controlled". I would like to list you ...
0
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

Can “the chickens have come home to roost” have positive as well as negative connotations?

In answering a recent EL&U question (Idiom for the phrase "someone who gets what he deserved"), I cited the phrase "The chickens have come home to roost," and said that it "applies ...
-1
votes
3answers
50 views

Verb that means “flutter” without the connotation of control [closed]

I need a verb that describe the phenomenon that occurs when a wing (like those of birds, or, for that matter, insects) is caught in a strong transverse breeze. I was going to use the word flutter, ...
9
votes
5answers
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 ...
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. ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Fox and dog terms as applied to women

My curiosity here arises from the fact that it seems bizarre that "fox" and "dog" (not terribly dissimilar creatures - see Belyaev's fox experiment) would have such opposite meanings when used in ...
0
votes
1answer
45 views

Connotations of “hungry for X” and “thirsty for X.” [closed]

Does "hungry for X" have different connotations than "thirsty for X"? I did a few Google searches and found that "hungry for X" outdoes "thirsty for X" by about 250% with most values I tried for X. ...
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Connotations of “quixotic”

Would you say quixotic has more of a positive connotation or more of a negative connotation? The definition for quixotic given by Merriam-Webster is: hopeful or romantic in a way that is not ...
4
votes
4answers
163 views

Does the term “abusive” connote intent?

When applied to an individual, does the term "abusive" imply that the individual harbors malicious intent? Similarly, if applied to an action, does "abusive" infer that the individual who performed ...
3
votes
4answers
790 views

“Tomboy” but in reverse

The word "tomboy" is used to express the idea of a girl who behaves in a boyish manner. It's not usually considered a negative term, or at least not very negative, and generally just means the girl ...
0
votes
2answers
84 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: ...
1
vote
2answers
244 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?
14
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
321 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
539 views

Connotations: “sanguine” vs “sanguinary”

I broadened this question after encountering sanguinary. 1. sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation: 2. sanguinary {archaic}: involving ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

Can “obsess over” have a positive connotation?

I would like to use the verb "obsess over" in this sentence: "Being interested in classical architecture I have always obsessed over Italy." Does this verb have a positive connotation or does it ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Do “ensure” and “assure” invoke legal obligations?

Not sure where else to put this as I did not see a StackExchange for legal questions. Will gladly remove if someone can suggest a more appropriate place. We are submitting a proposal in response to ...
55
votes
15answers
22k views

When to use “nude” and when “naked”

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
1
vote
2answers
81 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
8k views

Is there a word that means “multiply by ten”?

I'm wondering if there is a word that means to 'multiply by ten'. I'm curious based on my interest in the word decimate, which used to mean to remove a tenth of something.
1
vote
1answer
41 views
4
votes
2answers
235 views

What Kind of Connotations are Associated with the word 'Bruv'?

I encountered the slang word 'bruv' for the first time not long ago while playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The word is used quite a lot by a genius scientist character named Gladstone Katoa, but ...
-1
votes
2answers
176 views

What word describes a group of which the speaker is not a part?

I'm looking for a less clunky way of saying "a group of which I'm not a part" or "a group to I don't belong." I would prefer a one-word adjective, so that I could talk about "________ groups." So ...
3
votes
3answers
448 views

Does “moonlighting” have a negative or neutral connotation?

We all agree that "moonlighting" denotes having a second job. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford Advanced Learner's don't define it in exactly the same way. For example, Merriam-Webster attaches a ...
1
vote
2answers
112 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. ...
0
votes
1answer
149 views

Difference between “ADJ enough to VERB” and “so ADJ as to VERB”

What's the difference between the two structures: ADJ enough to VERB "he is fool enough to pretend like that" "But was their crime great enough to merit a death sentence?" "Apple offers products ...
4
votes
4answers
816 views

How did “kill” get its positive connotations?

For example: She made a killing on the stock market. The comedian killed the audience — they were slain with laughter. Did this meaning develop slowly over time or did some person or ...
6
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
273 views

Is there a word that means English-Language-Centric?

There was an argument about how someone spelled "Revolution" and they said "No, I did not write it incorrectly. I used the Spanish version: 'Revuloción' without the accented o to make my life a little ...
45
votes
13answers
6k views

Does “so called” have a negative connotation in English?

In some languages the word-by-word translation of "so called" usually has a neutral connotation. E.g. in the Czech language you may very often find a sentence like this (word-by-word translated from a ...
2
votes
1answer
117 views

Positive term for “curious”

I'm looking for a synonym for "curious" that is undoubtedly positive. "Curious" itself is fairly neutral--it could be interpreted as a good thing, but it's sometimes seen as a bad thing (i.e., ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

A positive word for 'opportunist'

The word opportunist seems to be used negatively for a person. Is there a word with the same but positive meaning?