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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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 This takes 5000 words to conclude because the 1601’s real subject is the innuendo’s provenance. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 13 May 2021 In April, the Post published an innuendo-laden account of the real estate holdings of Black Lives Matter activist Patrice Kahn-Cullers. Joshua David Stein, Curbed, 4 May 2021 The song describes a romantic encounter without innuendo. Charlie Harding And Nate Sloan, Vulture, 30 Apr. 2021 Indeed, the story about Cullors buying homes in Topanga Canyon, Inglewood and suburban Atlanta is filled with innuendo rather than outright accusations of grift. Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2021 By chance, were there tips about the release of another rerecorded album, specifically 1989, hidden behind layers of innuendo and in-plain-sight clues? Lars Brandle, Billboard, 14 Apr. 2021 Fearful of their phones, people try workarounds by chatting with emojis, GIFs, and innuendo. Will Cathcart, Wired, 5 Apr. 2021 Beetles are the largest group of animals on Earth with over 350,000 species, but until that point, no orchid on record had tricked a beetle to pollinate it through innuendo alone. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Mar. 2021 Through more than three years of allegations and innuendo about whether head coach Sean Miller would be implicated directly in the corruption that infiltrated the University of Arizona basketball program, the school stood by him. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 11 Mar. 2021

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

30 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for innuendo



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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