Questions tagged [connotation]

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

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What's a word that means arbitrary, but doesn't carry a negative connotation? [closed]

I'm looking for a word that describes a choice made without reason, but that has a neutral-to-positive connotation. I had always thought that "arbitrary" is inherently neutral, but in practice I've ...
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1answer
1k views

How strong is the connotation behind the word “implore”? [closed]

For example, in the sentence "The social worker implored the child to express his feelings about his new home", does the word "implore" make it seem like the social worker is more or less on his/her ...
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2answers
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Understanding “whistleblower”

The term, according to the Oxford Online Dictionary, means: whistle-blower A person who informs on a person or organization regarded as engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity. Also from ...
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3answers
926 views

Can the word “unsettling” be used in a positive sense?

For example, in the phrase: John told Mary something unexpected and thoroughly unsettling - but in the best way a person can be unsettled Is there something wrong (meaning-wise) with this? Can the ...
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Positive connotation of “fluke”?

Many sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, for a start) suggest the word "fluke" has mostly positive connotations when used in the sense of "accident." That is, "a fluke" properly describes a lucky accident, not ...
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How is the word “self-conceited” different from “narcissistic”?

According to vocabulary.com, the word "Conceited" is defined as: A conceited person has an inflated self-image and perceives himself as incredibly entertaining and wonderful. Talk incessantly about ...
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5answers
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Can you “commemorate” something bad?

Strictly speaking, from an etymological standpoint, there is no reason to suppose "commemorate" should imply either a positive or negative connotation of what is being remembered. That said, it feels ...
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2answers
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Usage of “representation” in the sense of being part of a group

Is the following sentence correct and clear? "Elite universities in England are under constant scrutiny because of the low representation of certain population groups, particularly state-school ...
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2answers
7k views

is there some difference between “an official” and “an officer”

if I use the word "official" as a noun, then does it have some difference with the word "officer" ?? Sample sentence: There are three major officers, head official, deputy official and other ...
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3answers
618 views

What can be an affectionate name for a car? [closed]

People who drive for a living (taxi drivers, delivery workers, etc.) are often fond of their cars and give them affectionate names. These names can stem from the car brand or model (such as a Beetle ...
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3answers
143 views

collapse of the soviet union - connotation? [closed]

does "the COLLAPSE of the soviet union" have a negative or postive connotation? I am looking for a neutral expresion. Thanks for your suggestions
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Talent or knack

I'd like to ask the connotations they have when we say : She has a talent for singing/ playing football/ acting/ painting etc. She has a knack for singing/ playing football/ acting/ painting ...
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1answer
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Does “kowtow” have racist connotations?

Just wondering if this had its origins in a "questionable' time and should be avoided. For example, if it were used during a time of predjudice against Chinese laborers, or used to refer to their ...
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1answer
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Word or phrase to describe a sense of (living) community?

The word or phrase should bring the idea of living community to mind. It should be able to be applied to computer systems, as well. In my head, it should be something like ecosystem, which is ...
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0answers
499 views

Erstwhile - connotations

This question asks about the positive or negative connotations of the word erstwhile. Erstwhile means former by dictionary definition and as discussed and mentioned on this English Language & ...
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1answer
647 views

Does “otherwise” have a negative connotation in this context?

I was wondering whether the word otherwise has exactly the same meaning as if not in the following sentence. I myself think that otherwise will add some negative attitudes toward the sentence ...
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0answers
114 views

Another word for “tens” other than “dozens” [duplicate]

I'm seeking another word for "tens" when describing multiples of something fewer than one-hundred. For example: The landlord received tens of applications for the rental home. I don't like the ...
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7answers
4k views

Word to describe a sarcastic, condescending tone/remark [closed]

I'm struggling to find the most appropriate word to describe the following type of remark (italicized), or the tone behind it: "I wish I could talk to him right now..." "There's this ...
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10answers
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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 ...
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2answers
15k views

What are the connotations of a “foot-washing baptist”? [closed]

In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, the foot-washing baptists seem to be painted by Miss Maudie to be evil and to have a strict adherence to the "cleanliness of the soul." When Scout asks Miss ...
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2answers
470 views

Yearning without Hope

I was reading Poe and thinking about his work. Then I thought his dark-romantic style seems like a huge yearning without any hope but I was not sure if this is possible. Does the word yearning contain ...
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0answers
168 views

Connotation of a sentence in a listening material from TPO

(Here for the original audio source (MP3 file). The part in question begins approximately at 2'18'') This conversation is an excerpt from one listening material in a TPO (TOEFL Practice Online) test, ...
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4answers
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What's a similar word to 'precocious' with a positive connotation?

Precocious, per its definition, describes a child in a positive light. But in practice, many tend to use it in a negative way, and I feel the negative connotation outweighs the positive. So even when ...
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What does Macbeth mean when he says his heart is “seated”?

Here's the quote (from The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare): This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing ...
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5answers
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Does the word ‘hard-boiled’ have a positive connotation?

Upon a quick google search 'hard-boiled' means tough and cynical even though it doesn't say that this is a disapproving term. One of the synonyms of this word is 'hardened' which means 'very ...
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1answer
146 views

Cute version of “sleep together” [duplicate]

The expression "sleep together" has a sexual context, but I'm looking for the expression when two or more people are literally sleeping together. Is there such an expression? The usage would be for ...
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5answers
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Does 'droll' have a negative connotation?

I'd taken droll to mean something like drily amusing, but without any implied negativity. But I've often heard people say Very droll! in response to something that they appear to find mildly amusing ...
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1answer
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Connotations of the word “cohort”

Outside of the scientific sense (cohort study), does the word cohort have positive, negative or neutral connotations? The dictionary defines it as a group of people or single companion and it ...
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2answers
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Is “pseudo” strictly negative?

I'm used to "pseudo" in academic contexts, where the word/prefix has no connotation at all. It essentially means "not genuine": Pseudorandom Pseudoprime Pseudoephedrine Pseudo-atoll I was about to ...
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1answer
11k views

Meaning of “have one's fingers in every pie”

What is the meaning of "have one's fingers in every pie"? I know it is an idiom, but I can't find its meaning in any online dictionary. Also, I want to ask if it is a neutral phrase or if it has ...
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6answers
201 views

positive version of tattle

Is there a word that represents the positive connotation equivalent of the term tattle or tattletale ? What I would be looking for is something like the following: Dan tattled on Ken to Ken's boss. ...
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4answers
775 views

Is “fatty” a proper word to use?

The most intuitive word to describe a person rich in fat seems to be fatty. However, I'm not sure whether it's commonly used in a derogatory sense in English. Do I need a more appropriate word instead?...
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2answers
3k views

Does the word “midget” have any negative connotations? What would be a non-offensive term today?

Midget is a word that is usually not said because it is offensive to the "Little People". In no way am I trying to offend anyone. But my question is, is it official that the word midget has negative ...
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1answer
620 views

What is the difference in meaning of 'monstrousness/monstrous' and 'monstrosity'?

I wondered if someone could tell me what the difference in meaning is of 'monstrousness' and 'monstrosity'? I looked up the definitions and this is what I found: monstrous 1. frightful or ...
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1answer
485 views

Does using “diminish” instead of “reduce” place an emphasis on the process of reduction?

I have an essay assignment and the prompt looks like this: Without application in reality, the value of scientific findings is greatly diminished. My teacher insists that the use of "diminished" ...
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1answer
818 views

What do you think when these words come up: “populace”, “population”, “people”, the “mass”, the “public” [closed]

When would be the best usage of those words? When do we do/don't use it? What is the message conveyed when we use Populace/Population; People/Mass; Mass/Public? 1.Populace vs Population 2.People vs ...
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2answers
21k views

The phrase “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation [closed]

Is the following statement correct? “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation There are some guys who propose to avoid this phrase without destination. Usecase: a comment under Facebook ...
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2answers
337 views

What is the denotation of the word 'population'?

I've seen the word population most commonly used in the context of the magnitude of a community or group e.g. "The population of the United States is 320 million". I have also seen it used to simply ...
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1answer
268 views

Does “slight future” have negative connotations?

I'm not an native English speaker and I see this word used in so many different contexts. Does "slight" come with negative connotations? It can be used negatively, but does it default to the negative? ...
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1answer
517 views

Noun meaning “compelling force”

I am looking for a noun that would refer to a compelling force, but I couldn't find a satisfactory one elsewhere. The word I thought of was "compellence," but that has other connotations. The ...
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2answers
1k views

Difference between hideous, odious and obnoxious [closed]

I wonder about the difference between 'hideous', 'odious' and 'obnoxious' All three of them share the following definition at oxforddictionaries.com Extremely unpleasant While I know that '...
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3answers
245 views

“Sensual / likes physical pleasures” without sexual connotation?

Looking for a word or expression to describe someone who's very into physical sensations, liking things varying from climbing, to baths, to working with their hands. "Sensual" is the closest word that ...
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3answers
7k views

What is the word for “victim” but with a positive connotation?

What is the word for "victim" but with a positive connotation? For example: Bill Gates was not successful just because he was smart and hardworking, he was also a "victim" of good luck. Obviously, ...
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2answers
529 views

Negative connotation in unremitting

I am a non-native speaker. Think about a man who is sitting beside his wife in a hospital all along. Would unremitting be unsuitable to describe him? The whole night through, the man sat ...
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3answers
11k views

Could you please do X vs. Could you do X please

I'm an English teacher, and I heard a student say "could you please open the window" the other day. To my ears, "could you please open the window" as a construction sounds exasperated, even irritated,...
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2answers
10k views

What does it mean to be the 'strong, silent type'? [closed]

If someone says you're the strong, silent type is it a compliment?
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9k views

What does it mean when people tell you “You have a good head”?

How good is this compliment? When should you use it instead of saying you are smart or clever?
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2answers
1k views

What connotations does the word “semblance” have?

Is the meaning of the word "semblance" closer to that of "fake" or that of "illusion"? I mean, does it have the negative connotations that "fake" or "counterfeit" have, or is it something that can be ...
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3answers
360 views

Conveying the idea of “balancing conflicting interests”

I'm looking for a less wordy way (either single word, phrase or even a metaphor or word picture) to convey the idea of the tension you feel when you have to balance two conflicting interests. Any ...
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1answer
123 views

Does 'hook up' imply a superficial relationship?

I am a non-native speaker. I would like to express that something happened two years after a character has formed a relationship with a loved one. This is what I wrote: Two years after I hooked up ...

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