Does the word "naughty" always have a sexual connotation if it is used between adults?

I'd like to use it in a notification-text of a smartphone app, e.g.: No naughty apps selected, where it's supposed to refer to things like Angry Birds that you shouldn't play during work/class/etc. It's meant to be playful rather than sexual. Is this usage possible?

  • 12
    He's making a list, checking it twice; gonna find out who's sexy or nice. Santa Claus is, um, coming. – RegDwigнt May 29 '12 at 18:49
  • 2
    @RegDwightΒВBẞ8: THWACK!!!! – Marthaª May 29 '12 at 20:53
  • @Marthaª: Spankings? Wow! Now that's naughty. 8^) – J.R. May 29 '12 at 21:27
  • Somebody surfed on too many naughty websites. – Raphael Jan 28 '14 at 12:30
  • The simple answer to the question title is "No" but in the context of an app, I think the natural connotation (at least in my mind) would be sexual / adult entertainment related. But then again, I'm not sure what other apps would be considered naughty or inappropriate. – TecBrat Jun 6 '14 at 17:56

Of course it's not always sexual. Here are a couple of dozen instances of "a bit naughty of me", within which I can't see that many (if any) have sexual connotations.

Context is everything.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 2
    "It was a bit naughty of me, but I did enjoy making it hard for the boys." Are you kidding me? – JeffSahol May 29 '12 at 18:54
  • @JeffSahol: Who's kidding who? "It was a bit naughty of her to unexpectedly shove her finger up my ass just as I climaxed". I'm not saying "naughty" never has sexual connotations, or can't be used in sexual contexts. Just that it ain't necessarily so. – FumbleFingers May 29 '12 at 19:00
  • Haha, I like Jeff's example :-)! Thanks for the answer, though, I suspected as much, but was led astray by a friend who suggested otherwise :-)! Thanks! – Nick May 29 '12 at 19:13
  • @Nick: The speaker in Jeff's example is Liddy Clark, actress and one-time Minister in the Queensland Parliament. We might think of penile erections while reading those words, but I'm sure she wasn't thinking of that when she spoke. She just meant it was awkward/embarrassing for the boys when they discovered she's had a mastectomy (so it was a sexual context, but nowhere near as smutty as we're all thinking here! :) – FumbleFingers May 29 '12 at 19:21
  • 1
    I'm sorry, @FumbleFingers, but I hit your link, saw that on the first site synopsis, and could not resist. For the record, I agree with your answer. – JeffSahol May 29 '12 at 20:02

To answer your first question:

Does the word "naughty" always have a sexual connotation if it is used between adults?

The answer is "no" – the word need not always have a sexual connotation.

That said, the word is often used to indicate some kind of misbehavior: disobedience in children; suggestive flirting or morally questionable behavior between adults. If you browse through the Wordnik entry for naughty, you'll see meanings like these strewn about:

adj. Indecent; improper: a naughty wink. Archaic Wicked; immoral.
Morally bad; wicked; corrupt. In a mitigated sense, bad in conduct or
speech; improper; mischievous: used with reference to the more or less
venial faults or delinquencies of children, or playfully to those of
older persons: as, a naughty child; naughty conduct; oh, you
naughty man! adj. bad; tending to misbehave or act badly. adj.
risqué: flirting with impropriety and/or bad taste; morally dubious,
especially sexually suggestive, usually in a mild way. adj. evil,
wicked, morally vicious.

In short, the word itself seems loaded with enough innuendo that I think you ought to consider other candidates for your message.

Put another way, I could design a smart phone that opens a texting window with the message BEGIN INTERCOURSE. That's grammatical, and certainly within the scope of the word's definition, but still I don't think it's the best choice of words.

If you wanted to avoid lascivious connotations, I would think inappropriate would be a much better word than naughty: No inappropriate apps selected

Inappropriate is much more generic, and slides more easily into a broad range of contexts: inappropriate for work, inappropriate for school, etc.

|improve this answer|||||

The word "naught," literally means "no" or "none."

To be "naughty" is to have "none" (or a lack of) some essential quality. It basically implies a short-coming or deficiency.

In my (New York) circles, on the other hand, to "no-no" someone is to possess them sexually. (That is, you do things to which people are supposed to say "no, no.") In that kind of context, "naughty" would have sexual connotations.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Brakenbury: With this, my lord, myself have nought to do. Gloucester: What, fellow, naught to do with mistress Shore? I tell you, sir, he that doth naught with her, Excepting one, were best to do it secretly alone. – itsbruce Oct 8 '12 at 0:21
  • Tom, the above quote from Richard III is to show that the association of naught with wickedness (and sex in particular) is actually quite old. In fact, it goes back to Middle English. – itsbruce Oct 8 '12 at 0:23

I seriously doubt that the writer of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" had in mind that when Santa was trying to determine who was "naughty or nice" he was looking for someone he could hook up with. Like many words in English, context is king. Children can be naughty and "big girls" can be naughty and mean something entirely different. Mae West did much the same thing with the word "bad," as in "sometimes I'm good and sometimes I'm bad, but when I'm bad, I'm better."

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.