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

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5
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2answers
72 views

Positive connotation of “fluke”?

Many sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, for a start) suggest the word "fluke" has mostly positive connotations when used in the sense of "accident." That is, "a fluke" properly describes a lucky accident, not ...
0
votes
1answer
283 views

Can “extremely professional” have a negative connotation? [closed]

If someone is described as extremely professional, might there be a negative side to it? This is how I would take it in many contexts, and I'm wondering whether it's justified. If some chap at work ...
2
votes
7answers
6k views

Difference between 'Redundant' and 'Superfluous'

(I made a search for this question on this forum but surprisingly did not find related questions. Which is odd because surely this question is asked often.) First, the sentence I'm trying to use ...
4
votes
2answers
40 views

How is the word “self-conceited” different from “narcissistic”?

According to vocabulary.com, the word "Conceited" is defined as: A conceited person has an inflated self-image and perceives himself as incredibly entertaining and wonderful. Talk incessantly ...
5
votes
7answers
6k views

What connotation exactly does the word “noddy” have in British English?

I watched a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby the other day, and came across a bit of dialogue I couldn't quite decipher: A character named Squeers: ...
3
votes
4answers
73 views

Can you “commemorate” something bad?

Strictly speaking, from an etymological standpoint, there is no reason to suppose "commemorate" should imply either a positive or negative connotation of what is being remembered. That said, it feels ...
4
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
1
vote
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 ...
1
vote
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
54k 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 ...
0
votes
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 ...
0
votes
3answers
63 views

collapse of the soviet union - connotation? [closed]

does "the COLLAPSE of the soviet union" have a negative or postive connotation? I am looking for a neutral expresion. Thanks for your suggestions
1
vote
1answer
61 views

Talent or knack

I'd like to ask the connotations they have when we say : She has a talent for singing/ playing football/ acting/ painting etc. She has a knack for singing/ playing football/ acting/ ...
2
votes
1answer
111 views

Does “kowtow” have racist connotations? [closed]

Just wondering if this had its origins in a "questionable' time and should be avoided. For example, if it were used during a time of predjudice against Chinese laborers, or used to refer to their ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Word or phrase to describe a sense of (living) community?

The word or phrase should bring the idea of living community to mind. It should be able to be applied to computer systems, as well. In my head, it should be something like ecosystem, which is ...
236
votes
38answers
92k 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
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 ...
1
vote
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 & ...
0
votes
2answers
99 views

A trend in expressions with obvious connotation? [closed]

Lately I have seen a lot of wording with redundant terms, like "positive innovation". The word innovation has a positive connotation, we don't use it for new forms of evildoing. Is this a recent ...
1
vote
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 ...
3
votes
0answers
42 views

Another word for “tens” other than “dozens” [duplicate]

I'm seeking another word for "tens" when describing multiples of something fewer than one-hundred. For example: The landlord received tens of applications for the rental home. I don't like the ...
0
votes
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference in meaning between 'nonchalant' and 'insouciant'?

OED defines them as: nonchalant adjective (of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm insouciant adjective showing ...
10
votes
5answers
3k 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?
40
votes
11answers
5k views

Has “hacker” definitely gained a negative connotation?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hacker as: One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a ...
7
votes
6answers
8k 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
2answers
442 views

What are the connotations of a “foot-washing baptist”? [closed]

In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, the foot-washing baptists seem to be painted by Miss Maudie to be evil and to have a strict adherence to the "cleanliness of the soul." When Scout asks Miss ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

Meaning and connotations of “ignorance”

I'm interested in the more intricate meanings of the term "ignorance". In my experience, it is being used primarily to express someone's state of not knowing. Somebody can be ignorant and innocent of ...
5
votes
3answers
262 views

Could you please do X vs. Could you do X please

I'm an English teacher, and I heard a student say "could you please open the window" the other day. To my ears, "could you please open the window" as a construction sounds exasperated, even ...
6
votes
2answers
135 views

“the writing is on the wall” vs. “the handwriting is on the wall”

This morning I heard on NPR someone mention that: "The handwriting is on the wall". I had a notion that it was a biblical allusion, which was confirmed by: ...
0
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do we call snail mail “snail mail”?

Why do we call snail mail "snail mail"? So by default mail will refer to email?
2
votes
0answers
49 views

Connotation of a sentence in a listening material from TPO

(Here for the original audio source (MP3 file). The part in question begins approximately at 2'18'') This conversation is an excerpt from one listening material in a TPO (TOEFL Practice Online) test, ...
0
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
423 views

What does Macbeth mean when he says his heart is “seated”?

Here's the quote (from The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare): This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, ...
4
votes
2answers
210 views

Does the word ‘hard-boiled’ have a positive connotation?

Upon a quick google search 'hard-boiled' means tough and cynical even though it doesn't say that this is a disapproving term. One of the synonyms of this word is 'hardened' which means 'very ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Does the word “newbie” have a negative connotation?

Imagine that I'm running a friendly and informal online business. I would like to introduce my service to the new customers by a blog post that entitles, 'Are you a newbie to XYZ.com?'. Will that ...
3
votes
1answer
132 views

What do you think when these words come up: “populace”, “population”, “people”, the “mass”, the “public” [closed]

When would be the best usage of those words? When do we do/don't use it? What is the message conveyed when we use Populace/Population; People/Mass; Mass/Public? 1.Populace vs Population 2.People vs ...
2
votes
1answer
213 views

Does 'droll' have a negative connotation?

I'd taken droll to mean something like drily amusing, but without any implied negativity. But I've often heard people say Very droll! in response to something that they appear to find mildly ...
22
votes
6answers
15k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
159 views

Is “pseudo” strictly negative?

I'm used to "pseudo" in academic contexts, where the word/prefix has no connotation at all. It essentially means "not genuine": Pseudorandom Pseudoprime Pseudoephedrine Pseudo-atoll I was about to ...
2
votes
1answer
81 views

Connotations of the word “cohort”

Outside of the scientific sense (cohort study), does the word cohort have positive, negative or neutral connotations? The dictionary defines it as a group of people or single companion and it ...
1
vote
6answers
106 views

positive version of tattle

Is there a word that represents the positive connotation equivalent of the term tattle or tattletale ? What I would be looking for is something like the following: Dan tattled on Ken to Ken's ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between these conditionals?

It's often said that non-native speakers have a poor understanding of the English tenses. I'm not one to disagree, but on the whole I've always thought tenses weren't that hard, until I got to the ...
0
votes
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
132 views

Does the word “midget” have any negative connotations? What would be a non-offensive term today?

Midget is a word that is usually not said because it is offensive to the "Little People". In no way am I trying to offend anyone. But my question is, is it official that the word midget has negative ...
-1
votes
1answer
69 views

What is the difference in meaning of 'monstrousness/monstrous' and 'monstrosity'?

I wondered if someone could tell me what the difference in meaning is of 'monstrousness' and 'monstrosity'? I looked up the definitions and this is what I found: monstrous 1. frightful or ...
3
votes
1answer
56 views

Does using “diminish” instead of “reduce” place an emphasis on the process of reduction?

I have an essay assignment and the prompt looks like this: Without application in reality, the value of scientific findings is greatly diminished. My teacher insists that the use of "diminished" ...
3
votes
2answers
700 views

The phrase “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation [closed]

Is the following statement correct? “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation There are some guys who propose to avoid this phrase without destination. Usecase: a comment under Facebook ...
0
votes
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 ...