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

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181
votes
36answers
74k 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 ...
46
votes
14answers
10k 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: ...
43
votes
12answers
5k views

Does “so called” have a negative connotation in English?

In some languages the literal translation of "so called" usually has a neutral connotation. E.g. in the Czech language you may very often find a sentence like this (literally translated from a Czech ...
22
votes
10answers
5k views

Does “so far, so good” carry a negative connotation?

As a follow up to this etymology question, does "so far, so good" carry a negative connotation? For example, after having her sonogram, my wife asked the technician if everything was okay. The ...
21
votes
9answers
44k 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
25k views

Suffixes for verbification: -ify, -icise, -ificate

The suffixes -ise/-ize -ify -ificate are all used for verbifying nouns and adjectives. What are the differences in meaning/connotation/usage between them? (This is generalising from the ...
18
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
830 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a non-romantic phrase for missing someone? [closed]

The phrase "I miss you" can be equivocal: suggestive of (a) romantic longing and/or (b) regret of loss. Certainly, context can shape its meaning, including geography, historical period, and the ...
11
votes
3answers
593 views

How much destruction should be in my mind's eye when I picture a city being “sacked”?

I've been reading some early medieval history lately, and much of the narrative, of course, encompasses warfare, which seems to have been almost ubiquitous in those times. Anyway, in these histories ...
11
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
800 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 ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

What did Steve Jobs mean by “Technology married with Liberal Arts” in his last speech?

The Asahi, Japan’s leading newspaper quoted the following famous closing words of Steve Jobs’ in his last speech at the iPad 2 event in March 2011 in its popular editorial column, “Vox populi, vox ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Does “oath” have an implied religious connotation?

In Singapore you don't have to swear an oath in court if you are of certain religions. Instead you affirm that you're speaking the truth: Circumstances under which affirmation may be made 16.   ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Connotations of trite, passé, and cliché

What are the differences between trite, cliché, and passé? They seem to all have a similar denotation, but what are the subtleties of their connotations? The only difference I really see is that ...
10
votes
3answers
836 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
870 views

“Software craftsman” as complimentary term for programmer

Is software craftsman a complimentary term for a programmer or is it just neutral?
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Are there racial overtones for the term thug?

Some of us have seen the Richard Sherman pre-SuperBowl interviews where he accuses the media of racism by using the term "thug" to describe him/his actions. He suggests that it is being used to ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Does “living in squalor” necessarily imply poverty?

Some definitions of squalor and its adjectival form squalid: Merriam-Webster squalor: the quality or state of being squalid squalid: marked by filthiness and degradation from neglect or poverty ...
9
votes
4answers
924 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
13k 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
10k 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"? ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there a connotational difference between “Reality” and “Actuality”?

The motto for the TruTV channel has always bugged me: Not reality, actuality. At least from online dictionaries I have looked up these words on, they seem equivalent. The definitions even reference ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

How did the term “Mistress” take on two rather different connotations?

One meaning of the word is "female master." The Latin equivalent would be Domina. Another connotation is "lover." Not quite what one associates with "Domina." Or was there a connection between the ...
8
votes
4answers
1k 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?
8
votes
2answers
493 views

Would you say that “headhunter” (as in recruitment) carries derogatory connotations?

I’ve seen the expression being used quite a lot in non-English speaking countries by recruiters themselves and I find it a bit odd. Have they chosen the wrong way to be cool?
8
votes
2answers
3k views

“Also” and “as well” for conversational context

"Also" and "as well" seem to be quite similar in meaning, but I'd like to know shades in its meaning and usage, especially for everyday conversational language. What one will sound more natural and ...
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 ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Does the word 'gimmick' have positive or negative meaning?

Does the word gimmick have a positive or negative meaning? It is not obvious to me from a wikipedia article. I also would be glad if someone could explain it in two words, not several paragraphs ...
7
votes
6answers
16k 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?
7
votes
4answers
342 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
407 views

Is ‘suit-wearing’ an adjective sui generis?

I was interested to find the term, “Occupy Wall Street’s suit-wearing cousin” appearing in a May 31 New York Times article titled Facing down the Bankers. It begins with the following line: ...
7
votes
5answers
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
608 views

How does one use the adjectival noun “l'enfant terrible”?

I have seen this phrase bandied about from time to time, usually in more "academic" works; my problem is that I remember it rarely being applied to children, as a direct translation might imply ...
7
votes
2answers
999 views

Does “uncanny” have a negative connotation to it?

Uncanny seems to be the word I'm looking for to describe something, but I'm worried that it might have a negative connotation to it. Does it? What are some words that are very close to having the same ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Does “uxorious” have sexual connotations?

I understand the literal meaning of uxorious, but does it have sexual implications? That is, does it just mean that one is excessively devoted to one’s wife, or does it imply excessive sexual ...
7
votes
3answers
240 views

What could the word “thumbtick” mean?

I am trying to give a piece of software a name but for non-native English speakers it's sometimes hard to avoid awkward associations with names because you don't live with the language. Sometimes word ...
6
votes
6answers
3k views

What connotation do these words describing “someone who straightforwardly expresses their” opinion have?

The adjective ones I have heard recently are forward straightforward forthcoming frank I was wondering if each of them has positive, negative or neutral meaning? What are other similar terms ...
6
votes
3answers
575 views

Which has stronger sexual connotations, “corset” or “bustier”?

Our fashion content writers are trying to choose the word that describes a fashion triend, but has the least sexual connotation. (Corset and bustier seem to be used interchangeably when it comes to ...
6
votes
4answers
686 views

Can “zealot” have a positive connotation?

A zealot is a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals. I have never seen this word used with positive connotation, but could it (without ...
6
votes
11answers
708 views

A synonym for “bastardized” without the evil slant?

With the following definition: To lower in quality or character. Synonyms found: corrupt, pervert, subvert, demoralize, demoralise, debauch, debase, profane, vitiate, deprave, misdirect ...
6
votes
3answers
443 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, ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

What does a “man of leisure” do exactly? What is the definition and the connotation?

I watched the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit some weeks ago, and have happily remembered a question I had forgotten from it just now. In this dialogue, Mr. Clennam, a dashing and ...
6
votes
6answers
13k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
343 views

A word for something that's done only half-consciously

In writing fiction, I find myself using the word "absentmindedly" a lot, but I don't think it's really the word I'm looking for. I'm not looking so much something done in a distracted manner, but ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Terms to apply to something that leaves strong memory

Do the following terms have positive, neutral or negative meaning? memorable impressive remarkable What are other similar terms that are used for positive, neutral and negative intention?
6
votes
3answers
31k views

Does the phrase “fine with me” have a negative connotation?

I have always thought that you could answer "it's ok with me" or "it's fine with me" when you agree with something that somebody proposed, like a meeting time. But apparently the phrase can have a ...