innuendo

noun

in·​nu·​en·​do ˌin-yə-ˈwen-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio)
-yü-ˈen-
plural innuendos or innuendoes
1
a
: 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

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.

Example Sentences

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 Rumor, innuendo and the lies of teens coming home late eventually lead to suspicion, then violence, then death, then corporatization and commercialism and finally into a bit of urban mythology known as the Coalfield Panic. Tod Goldberg, USA TODAY, 8 Nov. 2022 They should not be tried in the press, where innuendo and speculation sometimes get confused with actual facts. Eric Levenson And Dianne Gallagher, CNN, 22 Oct. 2022 Well, while there might have been some innuendo and speculation regarding the numbers involved, Chivas' interest was real. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 13 Aug. 2022 The Carry On franchise was a huge success in Britain, full of double entendres, innuendo and farce spanning 31 films. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Nov. 2022 The authorities' stark narrative laid out in court filings in the case comes in contrast to the jokes and innuendo that conservatives and some Republican officials have spread about the Pelosis in the aftermath of the attack. Lisa Mascaro, ajc, 8 Nov. 2022 The authorities’ stark narrative laid out in court filings in the case comes in contrast to the jokes and innuendo that conservatives and some Republican officials have spread about the Pelosis in the aftermath of the attack. Lisa Mascaro, Chicago Tribune, 7 Nov. 2022 The authorities’ stark narrative laid out in court filings in the case comes in contrast to the jokes and innuendo that conservatives and some Republican officials have spread about the Pelosis in the aftermath of the attack. Lisa Mascaro, Fortune, 7 Nov. 2022 By contrast, there is no evidence that COVID escaped from the Chinese lab — none, only innuendo and claims by data crunchers with no expertise in the relevant scientific fields. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of innuendo was in 1678

Dictionary Entries Near innuendo

Cite this Entry

“Innuendo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innuendo. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

innuendo

noun

in·​nu·​en·​do ˌin-yə-ˈwen-dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio)
plural innuendos or innuendoes
: a slight suggestion or hint
especially : a suggestion that hurts someone's reputation

Legal Definition

innuendo

noun

in·​nu·​en·​do ˌi-nyü-ˈwen-dō How to pronounce innuendo (audio)
: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ