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Questions tagged [connotation]

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

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Has had vs had a surgery/operation [duplicate]

Can someone please clarify the difference between has had and had? For example: Everyone on this ward [had | has had] [a surgery | an operation]. Almost every patient on this ward [had | has had] a ...
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1answer
56 views

Connotation and proper usage of 'impel'

I wonder what the connotation of 'to impel' is. And whether I use it properly in my application for a research job. (1) In my motivation letter I write: "After graduating summa cum laude, the fun and ...
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3answers
4k views

Why is “breaking the mould” positively connoted?

I'm not a native speaker so this may be obvious to some of you. I've come across the figure of speech "to break the mould", basically meaning to do your own thing and not adhere to traditions or rules,...
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0answers
72 views

Can the phrase “once more” be a noun in American English?

Can the phrase "once more" be a noun in American English? I'm wondering if it can, as the two Japanese online dictionaries I'm using for my translation of 今一度 both say that the entry, -which only ...
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2answers
1k views

Word for: a synonym with a positive connotation?

For example: "Cautious is just a _________ for being scared." "Opportunistic is just a _________ for being inconsiderate." "Not too bright is just a _________ for being dumb." "Simple is just a ...
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2answers
86 views

Does groping in the dark have negative (sexual) connotations?

I am writing a blog tentatively titled "Particle Filters: Groping in the Dark for Robots". It struck me that groping has a strong sexual connotation too, so I researched if the idiom groping in the ...
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3answers
180 views

Does the word “hovel” have an offensive connotation?

I came across the word hovel and I rather like the resonance of it. I'm aware it generally refers negatively to minimal, ramshackle dwellings, but I'm wondering whether or not the word is also ...
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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
146 views

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
87 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
150 views

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
243 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
127 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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3answers
62 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
119 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
79 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
33 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
205 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
6k views

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
108 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
41 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
98 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
49 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
178 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
103 views

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
2k 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
123 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
1k views

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
171 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
1k 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
75 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
148 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
190 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
64 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
80 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
240 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
59 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
66 views

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
128 views

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
355 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
66 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
106 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
229 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
199 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
137 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
276 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
43 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
98 views

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
49 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
81 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 ...