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

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0
votes
2answers
80 views

Is 'arrogant' a masculine word?

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
835 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
101 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
19k 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
3k 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
922 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
2k 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
16k 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
48 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
370 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
59 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
48 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
3k 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
128 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
284 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
101 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
561 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 ...
-2
votes
1answer
108 views

Does the word blackmail have a racist connotation? [duplicate]

I searched for the origin of the word and found out that the reason why it's called Blackmail not a different colour is because black fits the evil nature of the practice. But why is black considered ...
0
votes
3answers
145 views

Connotation of the phrase “bidding big”

Is it correct to say that a bid is "big"? What connotations does the phrase bidding big come to the average native speaker's mind? Is the phrase, "bidding big" positive or negative? Is it daring or ...
1
vote
2answers
34 views

Is “reform” (v. and n.) losing its positive connotation?

OED definitions consistently imply that this word signifies change for the better. But I increasingly find people acquiescing and joining in using the term reform even when they frankly regard the ...
1
vote
2answers
315 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, ...
0
votes
5answers
72 views

Why does 'up' have a positive connotation and 'down' have a negative connotation?

The word up usually has a positive connotation - thumbs up, look up, go up in life - whereas down usually has a negative connotation - look down, go down etc. Why is this so and when did such an ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

What is the right way to say that, “his credit balance is likely to be in deficit” [closed]

I want to say that that 'x' person spends a lot and his credit balance is likely to become negative. "With multiple ...., his balance is likely to be in deficit." OR "With multiple ...., his ...
4
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
344 views

Is it correct to use “or” in place of “and/or”?

Consider the following sentence: A project is a large and/or complex undertaking. To me, the expression “and/or” seems redundant since in formal logic “or” implies ...
3
votes
2answers
67 views

Don't you do this vs Don't do this

Could anyone clarify, please, what the difference between these two sentences is? I heard an American woman say to her child: "Don't you do this!"
2
votes
2answers
205 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Does the word “apparently” imply that I personally do or don't believe the statement following it?

When I say "Apparently, xyz", does that imply one of the following, and if so, which one? From observation, I believe xyz to be true, but I leave open the possibility that I might be wrong. I ...
2
votes
2answers
271 views

Is there a word for “drab” with a positive connotation?

Let's imagine that I want to say the following, replacing the word drab: This painting is beautifully drab. I'm particularly thinking of when you describe a piece of art. Usually something ...
0
votes
3answers
98 views

Synonym for rare occurrence but with negative connotation

What are some synonyms for 'rare' or 'unusual' that have a negative connotation. For instance: Enron's collapse was unusual, as the massive financial trickery ultimately bankrupted millions of ...
21
votes
10answers
68k views

What is the difference between “English” and “British”?

As an American, I naively think of British and English as exact synonyms. I know I'm wrong, but I just don't know in what way. I am vaguely aware that people in the UK hold strong opinions about one ...
3
votes
5answers
224 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
3answers
2k views

Connotation of “proud”

Does the word proud have a bad connotation? I want to use 'proud+something' as a company and website name but I'm not sure what connotation it can have.
1
vote
1answer
73 views

Connotation of “unzipping”

I'm working a piece of software that, as part of what it does, will extract/uncompress a ZIP file. I'd like to report this to the user by showing the word "unzipping" alone. Will displaying the word ...
-2
votes
4answers
824 views

Does seriously have only sarcastic connotations in this context?

This is the context: Lol! How brave... a down vote with no explanation. Seriously, tell me if I should just delete this. Please! That statement was found to be sarcastic, despite ending with ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Does “effusive” have a negative connotation?

He was very effusive in his praise of the features. The definition on wordnik shows a lot of words that gives me the feeling that effusive has a negative connotation: unrestrained excessive ...
0
votes
3answers
94 views

Something similar to “paranoid”, but with a less negative connotation?

Paranoia is an irrational feeling that people are out to get you (in a bad way). But what's a term or phrase for a situation where it irrationally feels like people are giving you positive attention ...
200
votes
37answers
79k 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
6k 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
25k 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?
1
vote
1answer
89 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
879 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
84 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
21k 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
1k 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
3k 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
1k 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?