in·sin·u·ate | \in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwāt, -yü-ˌāt\
insinuated; insinuating

Definition of insinuate 

transitive verb

1a : 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

intransitive verb

1 archaic : to enter gently, slowly, or imperceptibly : creep

2 archaic : to ingratiate oneself

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Other Words from insinuate

insinuative \in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwā-tiv, -yü-ˌā- \ adjective
insinuator \in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwā-tər, -yü-ˌā- \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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").

Examples of insinuate in a Sentence

years were needed for the agent to insinuate himself into the terrorist organization are you insinuating that I won by cheating?

Recent Examples on the Web

Dayoub and Fernandez took evidence from four burglaries that occurred in April and May 2013, which were not solved, and made up false narratives to insinuate the teen committed the robberies, officials said. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Ex-police chief, 2 officers, framed Florida teen to bolster burglary arrests stats, police say," 13 June 2018 The Courier Journal has not confirmed that Fair is Coach 1, but former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino insinuated it in an Oct. 26 radio interview with WHAS 840's Terry Meiners. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "Former Louisville assistant coach Jordan Fair is back coaching in AAU," 12 July 2018 Then there were the two tweets Trump Jr. liked that insinuated that David Hogg, a prominent gun control voice in the wake of the mass shooting at his Florida high school, was some sort of FBI plant. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "The big thing everyone is missing in the Roseanne garbage fire. (HINT: It's Donald Trump Jr.)," 30 May 2018 Preacher insinuates himself into the cozy Southern community, seducing the citizens (including the kids’ mother, played by Shelley Winters) with his smooth Elmer Gantry patter. Carlos Valladares, San Francisco Chronicle, "Waking up to the genius of ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ showing at the Stanford," 23 Apr. 2018 When Clinton launched her bid for the New York Senate, Gillibrand volunteered, gave money, and began insinuating herself into state Democratic politics. Jason Zengerle, GQ, "Kirsten Gillibrand, the Senator From the State of #MeToo," 17 Apr. 2018 Richard invades the dreams of others, just as Trump insinuates his sickness into our unconscious. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Obama’s Legacy Has Already Been Destroyed," 18 May 2018 Carlson, the Fox News host, cut off his brief interview with Jones within several minutes Monday night, after insinuating Jones was a racist. Courier Journal Staff, The Courier-Journal, "5 things to know Wednesday: Ricky Jones and Fox, 4th of July events, Castleman statue," 4 July 2018 In describing the terms of their contract with the Tezos Foundation, the story insinuated that, even if the Tezos tokens never amounted to anything, the Breitmans would still walk away with tens of millions of dollars. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of insinuate

1529, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for insinuate

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

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for insinuate

The first known use of insinuate was in 1529

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More Definitions for insinuate



English Language Learners Definition of insinuate

: 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


in·sin·u·ate | \in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwāt \
insinuated; insinuating

Kids Definition of insinuate

1 : hint entry 2, 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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Comments on insinuate

What made you want to look up insinuate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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