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Questions tagged [connotation]

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

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foundation, cornerstone, pillar difference

Civil engineering as a profession is centuries old and has long been necessary for the functioning of modern government. As long as people need to get to school or work, civil engineers will continue ...
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23answers
7k views

What is a stronger alternative to “avoid”?

In the command form, "avoid" seems to have a weak connotation. For example, the sentence "Avoid Macaroni and Cheese" almost seems to have the clause "if you can" in it even though it doesn't. So, is ...
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2answers
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Is there a non-religious alternative to the expression “mixed blessing”?

In my writing I'm looking for an alternative way to say that something is a "mixed blessing". The word "blessing" seems to carry a religious connotation. I'm seeking to convey to the reader that a ...
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1answer
84 views

What does a native speaker imagine when hearing “lunatic cat”?

Is "lunatic cat" like "crazy cat" or "it's nonsense, they don't say so", or something else? According to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lunatic there is a connection to the moon (see "...
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3answers
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Does the prefix “pre” connote negative meanings? Examples: “Presage” vs “sage”, “pretext” and “preclude”

I came across the word "presage" through the Vocabulary Builder as below presage (v.) presij to indicate something (usually bad) is about to happen. The sudden loss of jobs presaged an ...
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2answers
173 views

What is the difference in connotation between “relentless” and “ruthless?”

My understanding is that both words refer to a hard-charging "take no prisoners" approach to an issue.Relentless is defined as, "showing or promising no abatement of severity, activity, strength or ...
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3answers
80 views

Does the word “maven” have neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions?

I’m in­ter­ested in us­ing the word maven to de­scribe some­one as be­ing an ex­pert, but don’t want to seem con­de­scend­ing. Does maven have any neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions?
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1answer
40 views

What is the best synonym for “experience” (as something you have lived)?

I was thinking in something like "episode" or "event" but maybe they have different connotations. It is just to describe a concrete thing I have lived through, not very extensive in time, which has ...
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3answers
72 views

Allegedly vs. apparently - Differences in connotation?

I am a non-native speaker trying to find the right expression for my sentence. There is a study that reports a 55% decline in the number of trades, however, I cannot examine the data or the study ...
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0answers
70 views

Does “asinine” connote *willful* ignorance?

As a native English speaker, I've always been under the impression that "asinine" has a connotation of willful ignorance, or arrogance, on the part of the person so described. For instance, some of ...
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1answer
28 views

What connotation does, “to have something on someone” have?

Does "to have something on someone" connote wrongdoing, or is it innocuous?
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2answers
112 views

Meaning of “dismay”

What is the exact meaning of dismay? Is it close to shock and surprise? Or is it closer to disappointment and unhappiness? Or does it mean embarrassment? When I looked the word up in the ...
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9answers
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Do meteorites really land on Earth, or did the interviewee mean that ironically? [closed]

Technically speaking, landing is coming to rest after making contact with the ground. Yes, but isn't it supposed to be smooth rather than violent? Ships land, as do planes, drones, and skydivers....
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2answers
79 views

Can you define the subtle difference between “What kind of person …” and “What kind of a person”? [duplicate]

The indefinite article certainly adds something, creating a slightly different shade of meaning, but is there a clearly defined rule or principle for this? What kind of freak show is this? ...
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1answer
35 views

Does unsparing have a negative connotation?

I was reading definitions of unsparing Not merciful. Not frugal: unsparing generosity. It seems that unsparing has two entirely opposite definitions. I guess its meaning would be clear ...
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1answer
71 views

Connotation of the word “disappointed”

As a non native English speaker (I speak German), I'm frequently confused by the usage of the word "disappointed". When someone tells me they're "disappointed" that something didn't happen, the ...
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0answers
46 views

Can the word forlorn be used in a positive sense? [closed]

I came across the sentence below in the novel The Sound and the Fury. What does the word forlorn mean in this sentence? Can it mean the lone scent of the blossoms? 'It was in bloom and the ...
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1answer
106 views

What is the difference between disgrace and humiliation?

I was under the impression that "disgrace" and "humiliation" were synonyms. However, this excerpt from a New Yorker article made me wonder if there were subtle differences between the two words I wasn'...
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0answers
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Does the word “glitz” have a negative connotation?

On Google, it is defined as something "extravagant but superficial display", or "to make something glamorous or showy". That doesn't sound negative to me; however, other sources make it sound as if it'...
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2answers
677 views

What word with the meaning 'merchant', 'tradesman' or 'businessman' has the most negative connotation?

I am looking for a word (preferably and adjective) to describe someone who only does something for others if he gets something in return, like a 'merchant spirited' person. I would like to use a word ...
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2answers
96 views

The use of “male”/“female” (instead of e.g. “man”/“woman”) in everyday speech

In contemporary English, the terms "male" and "female" seem to be almost as commonly applied to people as "man" and "woman". For example, I see people posting questions on certain StackExchange sites ...
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7answers
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Can the word “Phoenician” be reasonably used to denote “of a phoenix”?

I'm trying to write a webnovel that involves mythical creatures. I want to include Dragons, Angels, and Demons, and the problematic Phoenixes. The problem I am facing is that there is no ...
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2answers
103 views

Does the word “sympathizer” have a negative connotation?

Recently, at my work, there was an email which talked about the "LGBT sympathizers" community. What the author wanted to say is the "friends of the LGBT community". Technically speaking it seems ...
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2answers
579 views

Single word for a synonym with opposite connotation?

Is there a single word to describe a word that has the same literal meaning, but is opposite in connotation to another word? In other words, what is to connotation as antonym is to denotation? To ...
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2answers
59 views

Unnecessary vs wasteful action

What's the best choice of word for an action/activity that has no benefit (i.e., strictly speaking, "unnecessary") when trying to put emphasis on the fact that the action is, in itself, wasted? ...
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1answer
85 views

What kind of connotation does “commanding” have?

I am curious what kind of connotation does the word 'Commanding' have. Does it have the same kind of connotation as a leader has of 'strength' and 'maturity'? Or does it have a negative connotation of ...
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3answers
155 views

What is the connotation behind the preposition “gone”?

I found few examples of the word gone as preposition; I know that this form is chiefly used in British English, and that it means "later than the time mentioned". But I couldn't grasp the connotation ...
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1answer
60 views

Use of sophisticated words (to muddy the waters?) [closed]

EXAMPLE: In probability theory and statistics, variance is the expectation of the squared deviation of a random variable from its mean. Generally, it measures how far a set of (random) numbers are ...
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0answers
66 views

Meaning of “laughing string” in a Yeats poem

Does anyone know the meaning of ‘laughing string’ in these lines by Yeats? Bred to a harder thing Than Triumph, turn away And like a laughing string Whereon mad fingers play Amid a place ...
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1answer
174 views

approach vs confront vs encounter [closed]

I know the difference between these verbs, however, I want to know if there are any other words meaning: to approach someone by chance / to stumble upon someone. I once used confront like this: I ...
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2answers
56 views

Term to describe a phrase so obvious that subtext is expected?

I am trying to convey an idea that seems so obvious to people that their mind struggles to find some alternate meaning or subtext to latch on to when they hear it conveyed. Consider "It is June". ...
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3answers
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The word 'overall' implies not quite?

I sometimes get feedback saying 'overall it's good', and I always feel that's saying there's still something lacking and it isn't really that great. Am I reading too much into it?
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3answers
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Is “boilerplate” a pejorative when discussing legal documents?

I have taken to referring to some legal documents (not just clauses) as boilerplate documents because they are re-used verbatim. For example, the GNU General Public License, the Creative Commons ...
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2answers
190 views

Difference between “inspirer” and “inspiration”

I'm writing an essay about someone who, through his journalism, inspired others to play baseball during a time when African Americans weren't accepted in the sport. Although he inspired others, he ...
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1answer
61 views

Is “bankroll” preferred to “fund” as a verb in formal writing?

In formal, factual writing, is it more appropriate to use as a verb the word "fund" rather than "bankroll"? [Example: "An anonymous donor [bankrolls/funds] the food pantry."] To me, "bankroll" has a ...
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1answer
102 views

Open-ended concepts in Chinese usually be alluded by listing specific examples. Would native English speakers find it hard to grasp the connotation?

In Chinese and Vietnamese sometimes a word is made up by listing its examples. For example, "table-chair" means furniture, "month-year" means time, "land-water" means country, "spring-summer-fall-...
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2answers
176 views

“go on your way” is polite to say?

Some weeks ago I was in BC, Canada and I saw a lady walking her dog and I asked if I could take a picture with her dog. She was genuinely kind, even asking me if I wanted to get hold of a leash, and ...
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1answer
112 views

Use of “Thanks a million”

Is it true that "thanks a million" is usually used with a slightly negative connotation? I often use it to end friendly emails. But I have seen somewhere that it has a negative connotation as in this ...
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1answer
121 views

Does “beats me” have a bad connotation?

While living in the USA, I have heard many people use the sentence “beats me” to mean “I don’t know”. Checking online, that’s seems a regular meaning: slang A response when one does not know the ...
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1answer
218 views

Does the word “indeed” have a condescending or patronizing connotation?

I often hear people use the word "indeed" in a response to someone sharing an idea and suggesting the fact that they already knew or thought about the idea. Almost as a substitute to "Obviously", but ...
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0answers
40 views

The definite article 'the' before the names of TV shows [duplicate]

Rewatching 'The one in Barbados' episode of 'Friends' TV series, I stumbled upon a joke that seemed to sail over my head the first time I heard it. Joey: No, God, no! No! No no, I'm an actor. You'd ...
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1answer
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Does the word “teacher” sound childish at university?

There is a distinction between the way students refer to teachers in high school and at university in my country and the former way sounds very childish. So, I was just wondering if it is the same in ...
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1answer
47 views

Word for being treated disrespectfully [closed]

I want to know if it is correct to say: “The kind of contempt sex workers receive from society ...” I mean we usually say, “the kind of respect he earned ...” I believe “earn” would not be right ...
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1answer
76 views

Are there connotations of subtotals in the phrase “add up the total”?

Does the phrase "add up the total" typically have a connotation that, from the list of all the numbers being added, there are some particular subtotals that either have already been calculated or at ...
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0answers
1k views

Buck naked: is this an unnecessary superlative?

A foreign speaker asked me what the difference between naked and buck naked is. I found myself in a quandry as to how to explain it: You can indicate a part is uncovered by saying "your |body part| ...
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1answer
266 views

2017 the year of “sexual misconduct”

Since October 2017 when the movie producer, Harvey Weinstein, was accused of multiple acts of rape and sexual violence in the US and in the UK, the term “sexual misconduct” has been constantly in the ...
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2answers
58 views

Can “guarantee” be used in a negative context?

Is the usage of the word 'Guarantee' correct in a negative context? E.g.: "Living in a high landslide hazard zone is no guarantee that a landslide will affect your home." It seems wrong to use the ...
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3answers
272 views

What's the difference between Englander and English? [closed]

When would you say someone is Englander and when say he's English?
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1answer
3k views

“Yes sir” usage [closed]

I have heard "Yes, sir." used by a client or by the older participant in a conversation and it seems to me that this goes against the common usage. What is the connotation of "Yes, sir." in a ...
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3answers
327 views

Connotative history and recent usage of “Person / People of color”

In its remarks on of color, the OED online includes a link reading "compare earlier coloured, adj. 3b." It marks "colored / coloured" as a way to refer to people with non-white skin as "now usually ...