I have a question. What's the difference between these two words, imply and hint?

They seem to have the same meaning in definition and if they actually mean the same, which one of them is more natural and common in everyday English?

Are you (hinting - implying) that I'm ​fat?

Mum's (hinted - implied) she might ​pay for my ​trip to Mexico

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If a person hints it is always intentional and delivering the hint is usually their primary goal. If a person implies something what they say suggests an interpretation but doesn't state it explicitly. Implications are usually not the primary goal and can also be unintentional.

Typically in American English you would hear "are you implying that I'm fat?" more commonly than "hinting I'm fat." I could see your second example going either way depending on the situation.

  • 2
    There are also differences when reading, but they are hard to describe. Implications generally involve reading several statements and applying a sort of "algebra" to them to understand what is and isn't stated, and of those things not explicitly stated, determining which can be inferred. Reading hints, on the other hand, is more likely to involve understanding obscure idioms, puns, etc. – Hot Licks Feb 13 '16 at 3:55
  • thank you so much but there's something i cant get it as arabic speaker there is one word that is synonymous with 'hint' which means make a subtle suggestion with the intent to influence the other's understanding. so because of that i can't really put my finger on the right usage of word ''imply'' like when should i use it , how could i know something is intentional or not so as to use hint or imply for example : ( This, however, does not necessarily( imply - hint ) that in its origin it was specifically Hebrew, but only that it had acquired distinguishing features of a marked kind ) – ǍḇḓěL-Fattah Ḿǿ Feb 16 '16 at 8:54
  • 2 - the salesmen who uses jargon to ( imply - hint ) his superior knowledge 3- You mean to ( imply - hint ) that I have nothing to eat out of.... ( thanks in advance ) – ǍḇḓěL-Fattah Ḿǿ Feb 16 '16 at 9:02
  • In all three of the examples you provide "imply" feels more right to my ear. I can't explain why. The second works with "hint at", so maybe is a direct object thing. – Kurt Feb 16 '16 at 12:16

Hinting is always intentional; implying does not need to be intentional, though it sometimes is.

  • It should be said, though, that, say, a reviewer might write that "Mr Smith's writings hint at an aversion to potato salad." "Hint", in this case, does not strongly imply that any clues in those writings as to Mr Smith's aversions were intentional, as "hint" is probably being used loosely. – Hot Licks Feb 13 '16 at 18:12
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    This is an interesting assertion, BiblioChic, and it may well be sustainable; but as it stands, your answer seems weak in argument/explanation and documentation. Please consider adding some explanatory reasoning or third-party corroboration to your answer. – Sven Yargs Feb 13 '16 at 22:53

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