innuendo

[ in-yoo-en-doh ]
/ ˌɪn yuˈɛn doʊ /

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.
Law.
  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

Word story

The English word innuendo comes from the Latin verb innuere meaning “to nod, beckon, give a hint, intimate,” a compound of the preposition and prefix in, in- “in, into” and the verb nuere “to nod.” Nuere does not occur in Latin as a simple verb but only in compounds such as abnuere “to deny, refuse” and annuere “to give the nod to, assent to, grant.” The most often seen, but least noticed, occurrence of annuere appears in the phrase from the Aeneid, annuit coeptis “he (Jupiter) assents to the things begun” on the verso of the one-dollar bill, on either side of the Eye of Providence above the thirteen-tiered pyramid.
In Latin innuendo is a gerund, a verbal noun more or less equivalent to verbal nouns ending in -ing in English, as for instance, the noun “reading” in “I like reading,” which is equivalent to the simple infinitive, as in “I like to read.” Latin innuendo is in the ablative singular case (and so to be translated “by __ing”) and means “by hinting, by intimating.” In legal documents in Medieval Latin, innuendo was used as an adverb meaning “to wit, that is to say, i.e.” (its original meaning in English in the 16th century); innuendo introduced a parenthetical explanation of the exact reference of a noun or pronoun, especially in cases of slander or libel in which innuendo introduced clarifying statements about what and who was meant by the libel or slander. By the late 17th century, innuendo in English acquired a noun sense “an indirect and usually derogatory intimation about someone or something.”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for innuendo

British Dictionary definitions for innuendo

innuendo

/ (ˌɪnjʊˈɛndəʊ) /

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

innuendo


n.

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