in·​nu·​en·​do ˌin-yə-ˈwen-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio)
plural innuendos or innuendoes
: an oblique allusion : hint, insinuation
especially : a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
: the use of such allusions
resorting to innuendo
: a parenthetical explanation introduced into the text of a legal document

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The word innuere in classical Latin meant “to nod, beckon, or make a sign to” a person, and in medieval Latin more generally “to hint” or “to insinuate.” One form of the gerund of this verb was innuendo, which meant “by hinting.” In medieval legal documents innuendo introduced inserted remarks, meaning “to wit” or “that is to say,” and the word was adopted with the same function into English legal usage. By the late 17th century innuendo was used to refer to the insertion itself and more broadly to any indirect suggestion. Later, the notion of the derogatory possibilities of such remarks came to predominate.

Examples of innuendo in a Sentence

His reputation has been damaged by innuendos about his drinking and gambling. His reputation has been damaged by innuendo. The movie relies on sexual innuendo for its humor.
Recent Examples on the Web The politicians and agenda pushers splash rumors, innuendo and petty squabbles in the papers and social media. Patrick Wallis, Baltimore Sun, 24 May 2024 Back in October 2021, Seinfeld addressed the same issue during an appearance on The Tonight Show, apologizing once again for the innuendo. Charlotte Phillipp, Peoplemag, 13 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for innuendo 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'innuendo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, by nodding, from innuere to nod to, make a sign to, from in- + nuere to nod; akin to Latin nutare to nod — more at numen

First Known Use

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of innuendo was in 1678

Dictionary Entries Near innuendo

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​nu·​en·​do ˌin-yə-ˈwen-dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio)
plural innuendos or innuendoes
: a slight suggestion or hint
especially : a suggestion that hurts someone's reputation

Legal Definition


in·​nu·​en·​do ˌi-nyü-ˈwen-dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio)
: a parenthetical explanation of the text of a legal document
especially : an explanation in a complaint for defamation of the defamatory meaning of a statement by the defendant which is not defamatory on its face compare inducement

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