Questions tagged [connotation]

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

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2answers
22k views

'Blowing Dixie double four time' and 'He can play the honky tonk like anything' meaning

in Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" what is the meaning of these two lines: In the first verse: You get a shiver in the dark It's been raining in the park but meantime South of the ...
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4answers
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Does “nattering” have a negative connotation?

I hear people saying that they're "having a natter" with their friends, or 'If you want to have a natter about starting a project, give me a call!'. On different websites there are different ...
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3answers
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Does “moonlighting” have a negative or neutral connotation?

We all agree that "moonlighting" denotes having a second job. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford Advanced Learner's don't define it in exactly the same way. For example, Merriam-Webster attaches a ...
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2answers
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Fox and dog terms as applied to women

My curiosity here arises from the fact that it seems bizarre that "fox" and "dog" (not terribly dissimilar creatures - see Belyaev's fox experiment) would have such opposite meanings when used in ...
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4answers
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Word to describe a sensation of death coming over your entire body?

This is the context where I want to use the word: He closed his eyes. The living did not come to mind, neither friend, nor family—only the dance of death, plain to see. The dancing figures of ...
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3answers
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Does the word “evolution” connote “upgrade”?

Does 'evolution' means 'upgrade' ? 'downgrade' or just 'gradient'?
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2answers
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“Repentant” vs “penitent” [closed]

Are these words interchangeable or there is some different perception of "feeling sorry" that underlies the concept? Are they both equally often used in religion? I found more derivatives from the ...
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3answers
422 views

Is there any pragmatic implication in ‘Beaky has enjoyed London’ here?

It says on a grammar book that in some cases, the present perfect form has pragmatic meanings. Joan has broken the teapot. (I have to get a new one.) I’ve had a bath. (I’m now clean.) Is there such ...
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2answers
653 views

“Dabble” in a positive sense

Can the word "dabble" be used in a positive sense? As in, A true "master of all trades", he has dabbled in several fields & contributed to numerous scientific advances.
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3answers
244 views

A word with the same connotation as “bureaucratic”?

I have contacted the math department head at my school to ask about some course offerings, and he answered my question. However, he is a busy professor and researcher, so I feel questions about course ...
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1answer
310 views

The use of the word “closet”

On ODO, one of *closet 8's definitions is: Used to refer to a state of secrecy or concealment, especially about one's homosexuality. Though by memory, I remember that it may have been used in ...
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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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1answer
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“Fast” vs “Quickly” vs “Speedy” vs “Rapidly”

A similar question has been asked. However, is it possible to give (general) differences in usage of fast, quickly, speedy and rapidly? And with respect to the top answer: Are quick and fast ...
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4answers
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Connotation and etymology of “dossier”

The word dossier has, at least to my ear, a vaguely negative connotation, although it refers to a file or bundle of papers. Does anyone know how the word acquired this connotation?
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1answer
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What's the difference between “surprise someone” and “take someone by surprise”?

"take someone by surprise" is defined as "surprise someone". But then why would you use one over the other? 1a. "She bolted into the room and surprised them" vs. 1b. "She bolted into the room and ...
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4answers
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What is the difference in meaning between 'nonchalant' and 'insouciant'?

OED defines them as: nonchalant adjective (of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm insouciant adjective showing a casual ...
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1answer
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What's the difference between “vita”, “curriculum vitae”, “maintenance history” and “résumé”?

As far as I know, the words vita curriculum vitae résumé maintenance history all mean a document that includes information about your life and your education that you give a company if you want to ...
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What are some synonyms for “mindbody” or “psychosomatic”?

I'm open to synonyms for "mindbody" either as a noun (the combination of mind and body as one unit) or as an adjective (e.g. "psychosomatic" or "psychogenic"). But I can't have "psycho" in the term ...
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1answer
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Is there a word that means English-Language-Centric?

There was an argument about how someone spelled "Revolution" and they said "No, I did not write it incorrectly. I used the Spanish version: 'Revuloción' without the accented o to make my life a little ...
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2answers
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Does the expression “web technologies” have a euphemistic/promotional character ?

In German, I sometimes come across the expression “Webtechnologien” as a direct adoption of “web technologies”, which usually relates to software, programming, web development. I've always found the ...
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2answers
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”See/wonder if +(a negative)” vs. “See/wonder if + (a positive)”

I’ve asked a similar question about ‘wonder if’ before, but I’ll give it a second try to learn more about a difference in nuance between a negative clause and a positive one. Just look at these ...
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1answer
654 views

Connotations of “pertinacity”

Does the word pertinacity have positive or negative connotations?
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2answers
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What is the difference between these conditionals?

It's often said that non-native speakers have a poor understanding of the English tenses. I'm not one to disagree, but on the whole I've always thought tenses weren't that hard, until I got to the ...
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2answers
986 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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0answers
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Are the fictitious names “Initech” and “Initrode” a play on words? [closed]

In the comedy film "Officespace", the protagonist works for a company called "Initech". At the end of the film, his co-workers take jobs at a competing company called "Initrode". It seems that these ...
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4answers
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Do people perceive a difference between “phantasy” and “fantasy”? [closed]

When I started to learn English, I was used to write phantasy instead of fantasy, and I was always corrected. I recently noticed that phantasy is an English word too. Do people give to those words a ...
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4answers
852 views

“Dabbler”, without the negative connotation

According to dictionary, a dabbler is "an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge". I want a word that means a person genuinely interested in ...
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8answers
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Is there any synonym for “abyss” with a non-negative connotation?

Could somebody tell me, what is the positive of the word "Abyss" ? As I know, abyss means an infinite depth or abode of evils, Hell. So isn't there any word which will mean the same as infinite depth ...
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6answers
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Connotation of “appease” [closed]

Is "Bob did what he could in his capability to appease them" a positive or negative comment about Bob?
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Does “gay” necessarily mean male homosexual?

I was under the impression that gay always refers to a male homosexual, though sometimes I see this term used to describe female homosexuals (i.e. lesbians) as well. Is it correct usage? Does it ...
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3answers
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Does this sound vulgar or have sexual connotations? [closed]

I'd like to ask you to help me clarifying if a brand name sounds sexual/vulgar/queer for native English speakers. It is "I Job You" which is a social job recommendation site. However, we had some ...
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2answers
611 views

Is there a word for “drab” with a positive connotation?

Let's imagine that I want to say the following, replacing the word drab: This painting is beautifully drab. I'm particularly thinking of when you describe a piece of art. Usually something lacking ...
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3answers
468 views

Blunt, brusque, curt, and terse — is there a gradation of connotation here?

I have two related questions. Do each of these 4 words have negative connotation regarding intent? (E.g., rudeness, malice, inappropriateness, etc.) If so, is there a gradation (or scale) of ...
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4answers
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Connotation of dislike in 'Credit where credit is due'

I am a non-native speaker and I wonder whether or not there is a connotation of disagreement in the idiom Credit where credit is due Would one say this only in a situation where a statement was ...
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5answers
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When the reader sees the words “foreshadow” or “omen” does it usually mean good things or bad?

I'd like to use a word like "foreshadow", or a word similar to it, as long as the reader will understand what is to come is going to be good. Is the a subjective interpretation of "foreshadow" or "...
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2answers
304 views

Does using the word “prefer” contain an implication of “necessity”?

I would prefer you come in and not your friend to get the signature. Above is the sentence in the email I received from my supervisor. I was in another city so I had no choice but to ask my friend to ...
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4answers
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Can “famous last words” be used in positive way as a response in conversation?

I came across the phrase, ““famous last words.” I took it literally as the last word delivered by famous people. But Wikipedia defines““famous last words” other than this sense as: used in a ...
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4answers
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Does “intense” have a negative meaning?

I always thought that intense has a positive meaning, meaning something that has no tensions, therefore an intense activity is actually a fun activity. So, what does intense exactly mean? A few days ...
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2answers
499 views

Does “delete” have negative connotations?

I've noticed, when major connected device OSes remove a Bluetooth device from the list of known devices, they typically use "forget", "remove", or "unpair" instead of &...
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1answer
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Is it derogatory to call user a punter?

I've been wondering whether it is somewhat derogatory to call a user a punter. For instance, We should encourage punters to participate in the discussions. Update: My apologies — I owe you an ...
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5answers
578 views

How can I more aptly describe acceptable laziness?

A lot of words for laziness (thesaurus: apathy, lethargy, negligence, indolence, sloth) carry some serious negative connotations. However, some forms of laziness are not necessarily that bad: for ...
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5answers
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Why does 'up' have a positive connotation and 'down' have a negative connotation?

The word up usually has a positive connotation - thumbs up, look up, go up in life - whereas down usually has a negative connotation - look down, go down etc. Why is this so and when did such an ...
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5answers
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Does a claim have to be explicit?

I have heard the claim that a claim must be explicit by definition, but do not see any definition that supports this. An example of how "implicit claim" is used from this Wikipedia page on Fear,...
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2answers
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Why is “folks” commonly used as a gender-neutral term for “people” when “people” is already gender-neutral?

Lately, I've been noticing a lot of people using folks (sometimes spelled folx) instead of people. This seems especially prevalent among left-leaning sources that pride themselves on inclusion. Some ...
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2answers
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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
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Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation?

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation? I received a comment on my writing style from a mathematician a while ago Why not try for direct active voice and stop trying to ...
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4answers
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Connotations of “anoint someone” as successor

I saw this headline on the BBC today: China anoints Xi as new leader There is one entry in the definition at Google's dictionary which exactly corresponds to the case in use: Nominate or choose ...
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3answers
653 views

Do English speaking people jeer at big feet?

(Harry, Ron, and Hermione were walking through woods at night. Then Ron yelled with pain. When Hermione threw the light over him,) Ron was lying sprawled on the ground. “Tripped over a tree root,” he ...
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4answers
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Does “develop” mean “upgrade”?

In my native language, the English word "develop" is translated to "the process to make something/somebody large/strong/big, and etc.; for example: economic development." Does develop mean upgrade?
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Does word “collaborator” have any negative connotations?

The word "Collaborationism" has negative meaning, according to Wikipedia Collaborationism is cooperation with the enemy against one's country in wartime. Wikipedia also defines "collaboration" ...

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