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

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Synonyms for innuendo


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Did You Know?

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Then came a Senate candidate who rekindled the innuendo before the 2006 election to try to keep Scarborough out of a Republican primary. Patricia Mazzei,, "How Trump’s tweets cause collateral damage for families already in pain," 30 May 2020 Donald Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories—recall his innuendo in 2016 about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination—but his latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Presidential Smear," 26 May 2020 The United States, though, is no shrinking violet and has lobbed back its fair share of insults and innuendos. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "China defends World Health Organization after Trump slams agency, floats funding freeze," 9 Apr. 2020 The performances by the two principals are almost acrobatic feats: to retain clarity and sense notwithstanding a rapid-fire delivery of words and a liberal dose of sarcasm, playful insult, bemusement, innuendo, and scattered asides. New York Times, "He Said, She Said, We Said, You Said," 8 Apr. 2020 Getting ready for my morning commute into the living room 👨🏽‍💻 A post shared by Too Hot To Handle - Harry ⚡️ (@harryjowsey) on Mar 25, 2020 at 3:03pm PDT Want more innuendo?, "Harry & Francesca Are Moving In Together After Too Hot To Handle," 23 Apr. 2020 For a while, there was some dark collusion innuendo from Burr’s friend, Senator Mark Warner (D., Va.), the ranking member on the preeningly bipartisan committee. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "More Media Misdirection on Trump-Russia," 22 Apr. 2020 His speeches are often laced with allusions to classical civilizations, black humor and ribald innuendo. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is like Trump. Only he isn't.," 23 July 2019 Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. Stavros Agorakis, Vox, "The 5 biggest takeaways from Michelle Obama’s revealing new memoir," 13 Nov. 2018

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.

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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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Time Traveler for innuendo

Time Traveler

The first known use of innuendo was in 1678

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Statistics for innuendo

Last Updated

22 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce innuendo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of innuendo

: a statement which indirectly suggests that someone has done something immoral, improper, etc.


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

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