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[in-yoo-en-doh] /ˌɪn yuˈɛn doʊ/
noun, plural innuendos, innuendoes.
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
1. insinuation, imputation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for innuendo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He might degrade Marcolina by mockery and lascivious phrases, full of innuendo.

    Casanova's Homecoming Arthur Schnitzler
  • He meant to be offensive, since the innuendo was unmistakable.

  • Schiaparelli has been called an impostor, and Lowell has come in for his full share of vituperation and innuendo.

    Mars and its Mystery Edward Sylvester Morse
  • Then without waiting for a reply to this innuendo he turned his attention to Hardy.

    Hidden Water Dane Coolidge
  • innuendo he had always found more effective than direct statement.

    Otherwise Phyllis Meredith Nicholson
British Dictionary definitions for innuendo


noun (pl) -dos, -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
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
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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
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