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 For every one depicting a sailboat or a sunset, there is another of an innuendo that needs little explanation: a man complimenting a woman’s fruit tree, a dairyman praising his cow’s udder while his buxom wife looks on. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 Voters may come at such a question from different directions, given the horrors of a year ago followed by the dizzying mix of lies, innuendo and legal changes pursued in states across the country. Rick Klein, ABC News, 6 Jan. 2022 The guest on that episode, medical researcher Robert Malone, created a distorted picture of alleged vaccination dangers with a combination of anecdote, cherry-picking, innuendo, and wildly improbable speculation — not deliberate lies. Faye Flam, STAT, 23 Feb. 2022 Yet Mueller’s indictments turned out to be long on explosive innuendo but woefully short on proof of major crimes. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 15 Feb. 2022 Online, dissidents could nimbly jump over the Great Firewall to Western platforms or engage in innuendo or wordplay—remember the mythical internet creature grass-mud horse?—to spread their messages. Jennifer Conrad, Wired, 6 Feb. 2022 Instead of creating innuendo and lies, however, how about just looking at the evidence. Joseph Goodman |, al, 4 Feb. 2022 After years of speculation, rumors, innuendo and conspiracy theories, Jake Gyllenhaal has addressed one of the enduring mysteries of our time. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 17 Feb. 2022 Saget often worked blue, crowding his sets with filthy innuendo and Rabelaisian wit. Amanda Wicks, The Atlantic, 10 Jan. 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

in nuce



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Statistics for innuendo

Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 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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