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 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 Nothing untoward occurs, but the innuendo is laid on thick, from the cheap carpeting and fake-wood paneling of the set to the light leaks and bits of leader in the film to the questioner’s voice and affect—fiftyish, gruff, insinuating. Luc Sante, The New York Review of Books, "The Sweet Smell of Hipness," 24 Mar. 2020 Each time that the pair meets up, their conversation is shrouded in innuendo and double entendre. Ineye Komonibo,, "The Plot Twist In The Rhythm Section Just Wasn’t Twisty Enough," 31 Jan. 2020 Guests at this weekend's shows can expect lots of teasing and innuendo — and, yep, lots of skin as the evening wears on. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit’s Top 10: Cool things to do this weekend and beyond, including the Naked Magicians, 'Nick Jr. Live!' and 'Pray the Gay Away'," 4 Mar. 2020

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

13 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 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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