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

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2answers
52 views

What connotations does the word “semblance” have?

Is the meaning of the word "semblance" closer to that of "fake" or that of "illusion"? I mean, does it have the negative connotations that "fake" or "counterfeit" have, or is it something that can be ...
4
votes
1answer
569 views

Does “abstruse” carry a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, does the word "abstruse" give positive or negative (or neutral) connotations? For example, "daedal" and "profound" would generally be considered a word with positive connotations, whereas ...
15
votes
8answers
4k views

Is the term “hack” more positive or more negative?

What emotional association does the word hack have nowadays in the first place: negative or positive? Is it more for doing something illegally or without permission? Or for doing something in a ...
-1
votes
3answers
59 views

Does “get a diagnosis” imply you think the result will be positive?

If x said to someone I want to get a diagnosis for Parkinson's Does that imply that x already believes they have Parkinson's and want confirmation, or does it just imply that x wants a result no ...
2
votes
3answers
47 views

Conveying the idea of “balancing conflicting interests”

I'm looking for a less wordy way (either single word, phrase or even a metaphor or word picture) to convey the idea of the tension you feel when you have to balance two conflicting interests. Any ...
1
vote
1answer
36 views

Does 'hook up' imply a superficial relationship?

I am a non-native speaker. I would like to express that something happened two years after a character has formed a relationship with a loved one. This is what I wrote: Two years after I hooked ...
2
votes
8answers
843 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
47 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Word to describe a sensation of death coming over your entire body?

This is the context where I want to use the word: He closed his eyes. The living did not come to mind, neither friend, nor family—only the dance of death, plain to see. The dancing figures of ...
2
votes
4answers
319 views

Connotation of dislike in 'Credit where credit is due'

I am a non-native speaker and I wonder whether or not there is a connotation of disagreement in the idiom Credit where credit is due Would one say this only in a situation where a statement was ...
3
votes
4answers
674 views

Synonym with positive connotation for “peeping through the door”

She peeped through the door asking for permission to enter. Does peeped through have a negative connotation? If so, is there a better word or phrase to be used in such context?
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 ...
44
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
1k 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 ...
216
votes
38answers
85k 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
373 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
45 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
18k 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
10k 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
111 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
125 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
731 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
76 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
97 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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3answers
71 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
35 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
104 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
5k 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 ...
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votes
3answers
59 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
2k 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
62 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
6k 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
210 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
916 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
99 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
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2answers
308 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?
15
votes
3answers
12k 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
664 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
612 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
54 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
65 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 ...
57
votes
15answers
25k 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
93 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
9k 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
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1answer
49 views
4
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2answers
374 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 ...