verb in·sin·u·ate \ in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwāt , -yü-ˌāt \
|Updated on: 31 Jul 2018

Definition of insinuate

insinuated; insinuating
1 a : to introduce (something, such as an idea) gradually or in a subtle, indirect, or covert way
  • insinuate doubts into a trusting mind
b : to impart or suggest in an artful or indirect way : imply
  • I resent what you're insinuating
2 : to introduce (someone, such as oneself) by stealthy, smooth, or artful means
1 archaic : to enter gently, slowly, or imperceptibly : creep
2 archaic : to ingratiate oneself


play \in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwā-tiv, -yü-ˌā-\ adjective


play \in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwā-tər, -yü-ˌā-\ noun

insinuate was our Word of the Day on 08/24/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of insinuate in a Sentence

  1. years were needed for the agent to insinuate himself into the terrorist organization

  2. are you insinuating that I won by cheating?

Recent Examples of insinuate from the Web

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

When To Use insinuate

The meaning of insinuate is similar to that of another verb, suggest. Whether you suggest or insinuate something, you are conveying an idea indirectly. But although these two words share the same basic meaning, each gets the idea across in a different way. When you suggest something, you put it into the mind by associating it with other ideas, desires, or thoughts. You might say, for example, that a book's title suggests what the story is about. The word insinuate, on the other hand, usually includes a sense that the idea being conveyed is unpleasant, or that it is being passed along in a sly or underhanded way ("She insinuated that I cheated").

Origin and Etymology of insinuate

Latin insinuatus, past participle of insinuare, from in- + sinuare to bend, curve, from sinus curve

Synonym Discussion of insinuate

introduce, insert, insinuate, interpolate, intercalate, interpose, interject mean to put between or among others. introduce is a general term for bringing or placing a thing or person into a group or body already in existence.
    • introduced a new topic into the conversation
insert implies putting into a fixed or open space between or among.
    • inserted a clause in the contract
insinuate implies introducing gradually or by gentle pressure.
    • insinuated himself into the group
interpolate applies to the inserting of something extraneous or spurious.
    • interpolated her own comments into the report
intercalate suggests an intrusive inserting of something in an existing series or sequence.
    • new chapters intercalated with the old
interpose suggests inserting an obstruction or cause of delay.
    • interpose barriers to communication
interject implies an abrupt or forced introduction.
    • interjected a question
suggest, imply, hint, intimate, insinuate mean to convey an idea indirectly. suggest may stress putting into the mind by association of ideas, awakening of a desire, or initiating a train of thought.
    • a film title that suggests its subject matter
imply is close to suggest but may indicate a more definite or logical relation of the unexpressed idea to the expressed.
    • measures implying that bankruptcy was imminent
hint implies the use of slight or remote suggestion with a minimum of overt statement.
    • hinted that she might get the job
intimate stresses delicacy of suggestion without connoting any lack of candor.
    • intimates that there is more to the situation than meets the eye
insinuate applies to the conveying of a usually unpleasant idea in a sly underhanded manner.
    • insinuated that there were shady dealings

INSINUATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of insinuate for English Language Learners

  • : to say (something, especially something bad or insulting) in an indirect way

  • : to gradually make (yourself) a part of a group, a person's life, etc., often by behaving in a dishonest way

INSINUATE Defined for Kids


verb in·sin·u·ate \ in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwāt \

Definition of insinuate for Students

insinuated; insinuating
1 : 2hint, imply
  • She insinuated that I had cheated.
2 : to bring or get in little by little or in a secret way
  • He insinuated himself into the group.

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very hard to disturb or upset

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