noun, plural in·nu·en·dos, in·nu·en·does.

an indirect intimation about a person or thing, especially of a disparaging or a derogatory nature.
  1. a parenthetic explanation or specification in a pleading.
  2. (in an action for slander or libel) the explanation and elucidation of the words alleged to be defamatory.
  3. the word or expression thus explained.

Origin of innuendo

1555–65; < Latin: a hint, literally, by signaling, ablative of innuendum, gerund of innuere to signal, equivalent to in- in-2 + nuere to nod

Synonyms for innuendo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for innuendo

Contemporary Examples of innuendo

Historical Examples of innuendo

  • He might degrade Marcolina by mockery and lascivious phrases, full of innuendo.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • Then without waiting for a reply to this innuendo he turned his attention to Hardy.

    Hidden Water

    Dane Coolidge

  • I was forced to accept the innuendo beneath his enigmatic utterances.

  • In an audience thus susceptible to innuendo Lyly saw his opportunity.

    John Lyly

    John Dover Wilson

  • The innuendo, if designed to make Mowbray smile, was far from succeeding.

    St. Ronan's Well

    Sir Walter Scott

British Dictionary definitions for innuendo


noun plural -dos or -does

an indirect or subtle reference, esp one made maliciously or indicating criticism or disapproval; insinuation
law (in pleading) a word introducing an explanatory phrase, usually in parenthesis
law (in an action for defamation)
  1. an explanation of the construction put upon words alleged to be defamatory where the defamatory meaning is not apparent
  2. the words thus explained

Word Origin for innuendo

C17: from Latin, literally: by hinting, from innuendum, gerund of innuere to convey by a nod, from in- ² + nuere to nod
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for innuendo

1670s, "oblique hint, indiscreet suggestion," usually a deprecatory one, from Latin innuendo "by meaning, pointing to," literally "giving a nod to," ablative of gerund of innuere "to mean, signify," literally "to nod to," from in- "at" + nuere "to nod" (see numinous). Originally a legal phrase (1560s) from Medieval Latin, with the sense of "to wit." It often introduced the derogatory meaning alleged in libel cases, which influenced its broader meaning. As a verb, from 1706.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper