in·​nu·​en·​do | \ ˌin-yə-ˈwen-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio) , -yü-ˈen- \
plural innuendos or innuendoes

Definition of innuendo

1a : an oblique allusion : hint, insinuation especially : a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
b : the use of such allusions resorting to innuendo
2 : a parenthetical explanation introduced into the text of a legal document

Synonyms for innuendo


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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 These are sometimes nested, the thread connecting them not one hero but the tellers themselves, who masterfully choreograph narrative techniques—cliffhangers, innuendo, unreliability—to enthrall the reader. Namwali Serpell, The New York Review of Books, 6 July 2022 Given all the innuendo swirling about Justice Thomas, the Jan. 6 investigators should do it transparently and make sure the public sees every question and answer in full. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Rapp testified at a deposition that there was no kissing, no undressing, no reaching under clothes and no sexualized statements or innuendo during an encounter that lasted no more than two minutes, the judge said. Larry Neumeister, USA TODAY, 7 June 2022 Rapp testified at a deposition that there was no kissing, no undressing, no reaching under clothes and no sexualized statements or innuendo during an encounter that lasted no more than two minutes, the judge said. CBS News, 7 June 2022 The commercial caused a storm on social media, where critics including various celebrities blasted its innuendo as making light of rape. Kathleen Magramo, CNN, 6 June 2022 There’s innuendo baked into the concept; the main selling point is that the decadence and uniqueness on the outside might signal the apartment’s undeniable quality within. Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2022 Note to parents: There is some profanity an innuendo, so your milage may vary. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2022 Here, the show’s bawdy spirit — confined mostly to winks, purrs and innuendo for network television — flourished uncensored. New York Times, 4 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'innuendo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of innuendo

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for innuendo

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

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The first known use of innuendo was in 1678

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Dictionary Entries Near innuendo

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for innuendo


in·​nu·​en·​do | \ ˌi-nyü-ˈwen-dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio) \

Legal Definition of innuendo

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on innuendo

Nglish: Translation of innuendo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of innuendo for Arabic Speakers


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