Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-sin-yu-ayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Imply or hint in a stealthy manner, suggest something unpleasant in a supersubtle way, as 'to insinuate that he was lying'. 2. Slip sinisterly into, as 'to insinuate yourself into a conversation'.

Notes: Insinuate has a large robust family. The action noun is insinuation, which may be used to refer to one act of insinuating something, or you could use insinuendo, a blend of insinuation and innuendo. The adjectives for this verbare insinuative, insinuant, or you could use the bare verb if you remember to pronounce it differently ([in-sin-yu-êt]) as 'an insinuate remark'.

In Play: In its first sense today's word is heard every day: "Herb insinuated that I'm not up to the job, though he didn't openly suggest it." In its second sense it is heard less frequently and more often read: "Foreign nations have begun to insinuate money into US political campaigns."

Word History: Today's Good Word is based on Latin insinuatus, the past participle of insinuare "to thrust in, push in, twist in", comprising in "in" + sinuare "to wind, bend, curve". Sinuare comes from sinus "a curve, winding", which English borrowed to name the curved sinuses. No one knows how it came to be in Latin. In, on the other hand, came from PIE en "in", which is prevalent in practically all Indo-European languages. It emerged in Greek as en "in", Albanian inj "until", Armenian (n)i "in", German, English, Dutch, Italian in. Spanish turned Latin in into en and Portuguese to em. Hindi changed it to mein and Proto-Slavic converted it to v"n, which became simply v "in" in Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Polish spells it w, Serbian and Belarusian have converted the v to u.

Dr. Goodword,

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