Questions tagged [connotation]

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

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286
votes
41answers
125k views

Is there a phrase that means sleeping with someone without sex?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
121
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7answers
15k views

What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...
63
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15answers
80k views

When to use “nude” and when “naked”

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
48
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13answers
24k views

Does the term “white lie” have racist connotations?

In his book Overcoming our Racism, psychology professor Derald Wing Sue talks about "unconscious racial oppression" that leads well-meaning White people to say and do things that are harmful to people ...
47
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13answers
14k views

Does “so called” have a negative connotation in English?

In some languages the word-by-word translation of "so called" usually has a neutral connotation. E.g. in the Czech language you may very often find a sentence like this (word-by-word translated from a ...
43
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10answers
7k views

Has “hacker” definitely gained a negative connotation?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hacker as: One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a ...
33
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12answers
308k views

What is the difference between “English” and “British”?

As an American, I naively think of British and English as exact synonyms. I know I'm wrong, but I just don't know in what way. I am vaguely aware that people in the UK hold strong opinions about one ...
28
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8answers
18k views

Is “went out like stink, died like a pig” just an unfortunate choice of words?

The CBC commentator Byron MacDonald said the following after a Chinese swimmer started out very fast and inevitably slowed down during sprint (the whole story): The little 14-year-old from China ...
28
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5answers
20k views

Is there a word that means “multiply by ten”?

I'm wondering if there is a word that means to 'multiply by ten'. I'm curious based on my interest in the word decimate, which used to mean to remove a tenth of something.
27
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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 ...
25
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6answers
31k views

What exactly are the differences between “diligent”, “assiduous” and “sedulous”?

From OALD: sedulous (formal) showing great care and effort in your work synonym: diligent assiduous (formal) working very hard and taking great care that everything is done as well as it ...
23
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4answers
104k views

“Plausible” vs. “possible”

I am looking to find the difference between possible and plausible. Here is what Apple's dictionary gives for each word: Possible: Able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or ...
23
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1answer
64k views

Suffixes for verbification: -ify, -icise, -ificate

The suffixes -ise/-ize -ify -ificate are all used for verbifying nouns and adjectives. What are the differences in meaning/connotation/usage between them? (This is generalising from the ...
22
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10answers
24k views

Does “so far, so good” carry a negative connotation?

As a follow up to this etymology question, does "so far, so good" carry a negative connotation? For example, after having her sonogram, my wife asked the technician if everything was okay. The ...
22
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5answers
62k views

Why are female wizards called “witches”?

I was looking up these two words in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: Wizard: Witch: It's mentioned in the Word Origin section that Wizard comes from "Wise", while for "Witch" it totally ...
22
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3answers
44k views

Fine semantic differences between “thus” and “therefore”

I have seen a few Q&A's with this title but none really reflects my question. I am aware both are adverbs and so forth and how they syntactically can be used equivalently, but what about ...
21
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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,...
18
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6answers
3k views

Is a “Tale” less factual than a “Story”?

I am preparing a press release, and so far the headline of the press release is: A SOVIET LABOR CAMP SURVIVOR’S TALE A colleague called the word "tale" into question, since this is a book about a ...
18
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6answers
3k views

Does the word “newbie” have a negative connotation?

Imagine that I'm running a friendly and informal online business. I would like to introduce my service to the new customers by a blog post that entitles, 'Are you a newbie to XYZ.com?'. Will that ...
17
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7answers
21k views

What's the difference between “efficacy” and “effectiveness”?

I usually use the word "effectiveness" in conversation, but sometimes I use the word "efficacy" then self-correct with "effectiveness" . Is there a practical difference between them?
15
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8answers
8k views

Is the term “hack” more positive or more negative?

What emotional association does the word hack have nowadays in the first place: negative or positive? Is it more for doing something illegally or without permission? Or for doing something in a ...
15
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5answers
98k views

“Complement” or “supplement”?

On a site similar to this one I answered a question and the OP made a comment which prompted me to complete my answer in an edit. I called it "an example" but I originally wanted to call it "...
14
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5answers
104k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
14
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3answers
3k views

Does the word 'clique' have a negative connotation?

Say I am offering a sharing service where people can exchange ideas and information through a simple interface. Users can start a group conversation and add their friends to interact with. Is the word ...
14
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2answers
2k 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 ...
13
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6answers
2k views

Bonus points, only negative

If you’re critiquing something, you might say that you’re giving it “bonus points” for an aspect that wasn’t essential or part of your original grading scheme, but you liked and consider to add ...
13
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3answers
2k views

How much destruction should be in my mind's eye when I picture a city being “sacked”?

I've been reading some early medieval history lately, and much of the narrative, of course, encompasses warfare, which seems to have been almost ubiquitous in those times. Anyway, in these histories ...
13
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3answers
2k views

Why are nouns sometimes pejorative when used attributively?

Certain nouns can often be used as noun adjuncts in place of a corresponding adjective, with no change in literal meaning, where: The noun is not pejorative when used nominatively by itself. Nor is ...
12
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8answers
2k views

“Software craftsman” as complimentary term for programmer

Is software craftsman a complimentary term for a programmer or is it just neutral?
12
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5answers
43k views

Is there a non-romantic phrase for missing someone? [closed]

The phrase "I miss you" can be equivocal: suggestive of (a) romantic longing and/or (b) regret of loss. Certainly, context can shape its meaning, including geography, historical period, and the ...
12
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7answers
2k 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 ...
12
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3answers
3k views

Does the word “apparently” imply that I personally do or don't believe the statement following it?

When I say "Apparently, xyz", does that imply one of the following, and if so, which one? From observation, I believe xyz to be true, but I leave open the possibility that I might be wrong. I believe ...
12
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3answers
126k views

Does the phrase “fine with me” have a negative connotation?

I have always thought that you could answer "it's ok with me" or "it's fine with me" when you agree with something that somebody proposed, like a meeting time. But apparently the phrase can have a ...
11
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5answers
2k views

Civilian in non-military domain

In a book review on a NPR site the word "civilian" is used to describe non-scientist people (emphasis mine). His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about ...
11
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4answers
2k views

Is there any difference between “result in” and “end up with”?

Seeing some example sentences of each phrase on my dictionary, I felt "end up with" was used for a kind of negative result and "result in" was more general. Is that correct? Here are some of the ...
11
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3answers
5k views

Connotations of “quixotic”

Would you say quixotic has more of a positive connotation or more of a negative connotation? The definition for quixotic given by Merriam-Webster is: hopeful or romantic in a way that is not ...
11
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6answers
190k views

'Expired' or 'Passed away'?

When someone dies, do we say they expired or passed away? Does the word expired give any more respect when used? Or less respect than passed away?
11
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2answers
30k views

What is the difference between the adjectives “live” and “alive”?

What is the difference between "live" and "alive"? When would I better use the first and when the latter? EDIT Say, there are several players actively participating in a game and some others are ...
11
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6answers
2k views

Does “oath” have an implied religious connotation?

In Singapore you don't have to swear an oath in court if you are of certain religions. Instead you affirm that you're speaking the truth: Circumstances under which affirmation may be made 16.   ...
11
votes
3answers
14k views

How did the term “Mistress” take on two rather different connotations?

One meaning of the word is "female master." The Latin equivalent would be Domina. Another connotation is "lover." Not quite what one associates with "Domina." Or was there a connection between the ...
11
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2answers
18k views

“Also” and “as well” for conversational context

"Also" and "as well" seem to be quite similar in meaning, but I'd like to know shades in its meaning and usage, especially for everyday conversational language. What one will sound more natural and ...
10
votes
3answers
5k views

Does “living in squalor” necessarily imply poverty?

Some definitions of squalor and its adjectival form squalid: Merriam-Webster squalor: the quality or state of being squalid squalid: marked by filthiness and degradation from neglect or poverty ...
10
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6answers
4k views

What did Steve Jobs mean by “Technology married with Liberal Arts” in his last speech?

The Asahi, Japan’s leading newspaper quoted the following famous closing words of Steve Jobs’ in his last speech at the iPad 2 event in March 2011 in its popular editorial column, “Vox populi, vox Dei”...
10
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5answers
28k views

“An awful lot”: Any negative connotation?

Today was my first time I saw people use "an awful lot of" instead of "a lot of". It reminded me of "terribly good", which obviously has little negative connotation. But how about "an awful lot"? ...
10
votes
4answers
7k views

Connotations of trite, passé, and cliché

What are the differences between trite, cliché, and passé? They seem to all have a similar denotation, but what are the subtleties of their connotations? The only difference I really see is that ...
10
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5answers
4k views

Does using the word “crony” necessitate a negative connotation?

I have always heard the word "crony" in the context of acquaintanceships between people exploiting their closeness for less than noble means. Despite its definitions in the usual places as simply long-...
10
votes
3answers
744 views

Name for the literary device contrasting synonyms with different connotations?

I’m thinking in terms of phrases like: You may be [one connotation of denotation x] but you’re not [contrasting connotation of denotation x]. Two examples are: He may have been your father, but ...
9
votes
8answers
105k views

What is the neutral way of telling someone to “do whatever you want”?

Do whatever you want This sentence can carry a negative tone (highly probable). Making it sound that someone is fed-up and/or simply doesn't care. Especially after one has had a heated discussion/...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

Connotations of the word “galore”

I would like to know what connotations the word "galore" carries for native English speakers. I really like the word and it's meaning and have seen it being used in some modern contexts. However, I'm ...
9
votes
4answers
5k views

Does “upshot” denote something positive, negative, or neutral?

I’m a non-native speaker of English, and I’ve always felt that “upshot” was used to denote positive results. But I’ve come across a few cases recently where negative or neutral outcomes were ...

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