While searching for a definition of 'insinuate' and its examples in context, I have stumbled upon the following sentence (Definition of insinuate from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press):

An absolute is a verb that can not be measured because it is a lack of a behavior insinuating an end state

Thomson, M. (2012, June 12). PsyWar of Words. TIME. https://nation.time.com/2012/06/12/psywar-of-words/

According to COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, if you say that:

  1. someone insinuates that something bad is the case, you mean that they say it in an indirect way
  2. someone insinuates themselves into a particular situation, you mean that they manage very clearly, and perhaps dishonestly, to get into that situation

But the use of 'insinuating' in the sentence mentioned earlier doesn't make sense to me (frankly, the whole sentence either).

  • Reading what's available in the link, I'd say (1) 'absolute verb' (as well as 'strong/weak verb') is used according to a stipulative definition at odds with the usual linguistic usage ('a verb usually taking a DO used without one'). (2) Here, 'insinuates' seems a poor choice for 'strongly suggests'. 'Implies' is probably avoided as it has conflicting definitions ('requires/mandates' vs 'suggests, usually quite strongly'). Nov 9, 2021 at 11:28
  • It's not great English (and it's from an army manual, not a linguistics text, so you probably wouldn't expect great English). But it relates to the first meaning you cite. The article is talking about the psychological effect of words, so it means that some words convey ideas (such as a desirable or undesirable end state) in an indirect way.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 9, 2021 at 15:01
  • @EdwinAshworth, would it be better to use 'summons up' instead? But it seems to me that 'summon up' doesn't fully indicate extent to which suggestion is strong (it implies, at least for me, that a thought, summoned up by something, is rather nebulous) Nov 9, 2021 at 20:17
  • I'd use 'suggests', qualified ('strongly'? 'quite strongly'? 'insidiously'?!) Nov 10, 2021 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


A quick definition look-up gives, "slide slowly and smoothly into a position". For completeness, make sure to check more than one dictionary when the meaning isn't yet clear.


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