in·​sin·​u·​ate in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwāt How to pronounce insinuate (audio)
insinuated; insinuating

transitive verb

: to impart or suggest in an artful or indirect way : imply
I resent what you're insinuating.
: to introduce (something, such as an idea) gradually or in a subtle, indirect, or covert way
insinuate doubts into a trusting mind
: to introduce (someone, such as oneself) by stealthy, smooth, or artful means

intransitive verb

archaic : to enter gently, slowly, or imperceptibly : creep
archaic : to ingratiate oneself
insinuative adjective
insinuator noun

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When to Use Insinuate

Insinuate comes from the Latin root sinuare, meaning "to bend or curve." It is a synonym of imply or suggest; however, insinuate usually conveys something unpleasant is said in a sly or underhanded way.

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

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 While the male swimmers are given the opportunity to train on the ship escorting the team from New York to France, the female swimmers are not given time to prepare, which, the movie insinuates, leads to a poor showing at the Games and no medals. Jessica Wang,, 1 June 2024 New Hampshire authorities are investigating a robocall that mimicked President Joe Biden’s voice and falsely insinuated that voting in the Democratic primary would preclude voters from the general election, the Associated Press reported in February. Sam Janesch, Baltimore Sun, 1 May 2024 Yet his defense attorneys insinuated Garmashov had a financial incentive not to fess up about such an arrangement. Stephen Hobbs, Sacramento Bee, 24 May 2024 Mayor Scott should have known better than to insinuate prejudice into the blistering citywide debate over squeegee workers’ rights in the aftermath of this already fraught and miserable tragedy. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for insinuate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'insinuate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1529, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of insinuate was in 1529


Dictionary Entries Near insinuate

Cite this Entry

“Insinuate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​sin·​u·​ate in-ˈsin-yə-ˌwāt How to pronounce insinuate (audio)
insinuated; insinuating
: to introduce in a gradual, secret, or clever way
insinuated herself into his confidence
: to suggest in an indirect way : imply
insinuated that I had cheated
insinuator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on insinuate

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