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

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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
31 views

Meaning of a verb without much context [on hold]

If I were to state "I'd like to race a car." with no other context before or after, would that imply that I want to race in a car or that I want to race against one?
0
votes
1answer
33 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 ...
206
votes
37answers
82k 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 ...
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
119 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
620 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
63 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
154 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
9k 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
105 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
458 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
36 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
30 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 ...
54
votes
15answers
20k 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
69 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
36 views
4
votes
2answers
155 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
107 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
416 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
97 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
84 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
764 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
226 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
97 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?
1
vote
3answers
99 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What are all the ways the British use the word “lovely”? Especially towards pretty girls?

From watching many period dramas and plays set in England, as I like to do, I've become more acutely aware of the British overloading of the word lovely. In particular, I have two questions: What ...
4
votes
6answers
435 views

Connotations of “inevitable” versus “unavoidable”

"Inevitable" and "unavoidable" have near-synonymous definitions per stock Google dictionary searches, and both words stem from the same Latin root, but I've also seen broad acknowledgement that they ...
0
votes
2answers
103 views

Is 'arrogant' a masculine word? [closed]

I was trying to think of a word to describe a female acquaintance and came up with arrogant, but immediately wanted to discard this as the word itself felt masculine to me. I later settled on ...
1
vote
2answers
163 views

Does the word zealous have an implicit religious connotation? [duplicate]

Earlier today I was describing someone to a friend. I said, "I never realized how zealous he was." I meant for the meaning of zealous here to be religiously zealous. Without an adverb, I would ...
5
votes
5answers
25k 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
4k 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: ...
9
votes
5answers
983 views

Connotations of the word “galore”

I would like to know what connotations the word "galore" carries for native English speakers. I really like the word and it's meaning and have seen it being used in some modern contexts. However, I'm ...
3
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
18k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
61 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. ...
1
vote
2answers
509 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, ...
0
votes
2answers
70 views

One-night stand and one nightstand

I was wondering whether the word nightstand has any sexual connotation. If so, are one-night stand and one nightstand the same thing? I do know that it doesn't actually have any connotation but some ...
0
votes
1answer
82 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 ...
3
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 ...
102
votes
7answers
10k views

What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...
2
votes
5answers
229 views

A word for extreme care, attention, dedication towards words or a language

I'm looking for a word or a phrase which suggests the treatment of words or a language with extreme care, attention, and devotion -- like on StackExchange for example. I thought of pamper e.g. words ...
4
votes
3answers
469 views

What does “talk to the hand” mean?

I saw the phrase "talk to the hand" on many funny stickers which seems like expressing the idea that you want to stop the topic or conversation which you feel uncomfortable or not interested in. But ...
0
votes
3answers
138 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
827 views

How acceptable is “asinine”

The relation between asinine and ass is pretty apparent, and I know that ass isn't a very acceptable word, but is asinine? If it were used in an essay for school or during discussion would it be ...