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

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188
votes
37answers
76k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
19k 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?
0
votes
2answers
76 views

Word for someone who is “pretentious”, but without negative connotation?

Pretentious is defined as "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed." What if someone does impress others because they actually do have ...
1
vote
1answer
45 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
788 views

Bless your heart

Is "bless your heart" something only used by old women in the South (all I've ever heard)? Or is it ever appropriate for a man to use it without seeming unmanly? Does the term always have ...
4
votes
2answers
62 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
17k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
268 views

“Fast” vs “Quickly” vs “Speedy” vs “Rapidly”

A similar question has been asked. However, is it possible to give (general) differences in usage of fast, quickly, speedy and rapidly? And with respect to the top answer: Are quick and fast ...
0
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
43
votes
12answers
5k 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
8answers
2k views

What is the neutral way of telling someone to “do whatever you want”?

Do whatever you want This sentence can carry a negative tone (highly probable). Making it sound that someone is fed-up and/or simply doesn't care. Especially after one has had a heated ...
4
votes
5answers
767 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?
9
votes
3answers
610 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
914 views

Does “exotic” have racist connotation? [closed]

Sometimes you hear people use "exotic" to refer to something foreign to them. It can be a place, music, food, clothes, or even a person. Some people argue that the word exotic has racist connotation ...
8
votes
6answers
7k views

What connotation does “to fork one's repo” have?

In a recent news item, an employee was fired partly for making jokes about "big dongle" and "forking repos", which were alleged to be inappropriate sexual jokes. The employee admitted the dongle joke ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

Connotation of the word “pile” [closed]

We would like to start an info-service for programmers and we came up with a name: Code Pile How does it sound for native-speakers? Is it ok?
0
votes
1answer
44 views

Geek vs Geek Out - beyond computers

I am struggling with new usages of the word "geek" or "geek out". In social media outlets, it's no longer confined to computers or technology, but can be related to other subjects including ...
2
votes
6answers
326 views

Connotation of “appease” [closed]

Is "Bob did what he could in his capability to appease them" a positive or negative comment about Bob?
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Bonus points, only negative

If you’re critiquing something, you might say that you’re giving it “bonus points” for an aspect that wasn’t essential or part of your original grading scheme, but you liked and consider to add ...
-3
votes
1answer
694 views

“Go ahead and head on over to …”

Although I don't really have evidence for this, it seems to me that the phrase "go ahead and head on over to [...]" prevails more and more over simply "go to [...]". This phenomenon is particularly ...
0
votes
1answer
62 views

Can parents “educate” their children? Or only teachers? [closed]

Many of my Asian students who are learning English say that parents can "educate" their children. However I'm not sure if this is a correct collocation in English. My understanding of "education" is ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Is this a correct usage of “gravitas”? [closed]

The word gravitas is usually used in reference to a human quality. Can it also be used correctly in the following example? The use of the time-worn stones for the steps gives an instant air of ...
6
votes
6answers
14k 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
116 views

synonyms for 'professional'

I am looking for a synonym for the adjective "professional" as it is sometimes used to mean "of high quality" or "projecting confidence & skill" when describing the perception of a group of people ...
8
votes
6answers
14k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
11k 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
1answer
90 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
128 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 ...
3
votes
10answers
815 views

Is there an adjective for someone who can withstand ridicule?

I've been searching both my mind and several thesauruses attempting to find the adjective that best describes this type of person. The term "thick-skinned" is the closest to what I am trying to ...
0
votes
2answers
95 views

Connotations of “have you ever thought about…”

I recently had an argument with a friend around the question "have you ever thought about something?" The question was asked in the context of exploring some life possibilities, such as buying a ...
4
votes
3answers
10k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
1
vote
3answers
492 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
827 views

Has the suffix “-trix” acquired a pejorative meaning in recent years?

A couple days ago I needed the correct word for a female aviator, which I figured was aviatress. A dictionary.com search provided aviatress, aviatrice and aviatrix as acceptable choices. ...
10
votes
3answers
892 views

Why are nouns sometimes pejorative when used attributively?

Certain nouns can often be used as noun adjuncts in place of a corresponding adjective, with no change in literal meaning, where: The noun is not pejorative when used nominatively by itself. Nor is ...
5
votes
12answers
1k views

Is there a non-derogatory synonym for “propaganda”?

Is there a non-derogatory synonym for propaganda? Specifically, I’m talking about a word to describe the sum of all messages a particular political member has broadcast (through various media), but ...
3
votes
3answers
432 views

More precise word or phrase for neutral connotation of racism

Racism in the dictionary means a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own ...
1
vote
5answers
168 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
479 views

Is the word “classless” neutral in its implication, or does it have a derogatory tone?

I was drawn to the word, “classless” in Carolyn Hax’s answer to a reader in the counseling corner of Washington Post (June 7), which comes under the title, “How do you get back at a loudmouth? By ...
1
vote
4answers
76 views

Non positively connoted synonym for “highlights”

I'm producing a monthly report that put forward a selection of ten particular cases out of 70 individual entries. I filter for the 5 best and 5 worst cases according to various indicators. The idea ...
3
votes
6answers
364 views

A word similar to pride (without it's troublesome patronizing connotations)

I frequently want to express a feeling of pleasure to be associated with someone who is doing something exceptional. The phrase that comes to mind is, "I'm proud of you," but I am troubled by a ...
1
vote
2answers
172 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, ...
3
votes
2answers
232 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Does “upshot” denote something positive, negative, or neutral?

I’m a non-native speaker of English, and I’ve always felt that “upshot” was used to denote positive results. But I’ve come across a few cases recently where negative or neutral outcomes were ...
0
votes
3answers
326 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"?
4
votes
2answers
955 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
545 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 ...
48
votes
14answers
12k 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: ...
6
votes
3answers
486 views

Connotations of Letter 'X'

In the English language, the letter X has a connotation of mystery, intrigue, or excitement. Examples: Planet X: A theoretical planet of mysterious origin, or an unknown planet. [Edit: Bad example, ...
-1
votes
1answer
81 views

“Putative” vs. “surrogate” [closed]

How similar or different is "putative" to "surrogate"? The term "surrogate father" is common, "putative father" is fairly so, too. But what may be the difference in connotation?