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Alternative forms[edit]


From the Latin innuendō (by nodding), ablative singular form of innuendum (a nodding), gerund of innuō (I give a nod).


  • IPA(key): /ˌɪnjuˈɛndəʊ/
  • Rhymes: -ɛndəʊ
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innuendo (plural innuendoes or innuendos or innuendis)

  1. A derogatory hint or reference to, or (often sexual) insinuation about, a person or thing.
    She made a devious innuendo about her opponent, who was embarrassed.
    • 1831, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XV, in Romance and Reality. [], volume III, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 273:
      At dinner, a dish of stewed eels made Mr. Higgs a little pensive, and he remarked, "that the fair sex slipped through your fingers just like eels." This innuendo was, however, all that disturbed the enjoyment of the day, whose hilarity, as the newspapers say of a public dinner, was prolonged to a late hour.
  2. A remark that is suggestive of something sexual without stating it explicitly.
    • 1995, Bunmi Sofola, Yours Sincerely: Selected Writings of Bunmi Sofola:
      We were both quite good friends and apart from the playful innuendos about having an affair together we never really did anything.
    • 1998, Anna Banks, Stephen P. Banks, Fiction and Social Research: By Ice Or Fire, Rowman & Littlefield, →ISBN, page 43:
      Later in this phone call, Frank assk Libby on a date, and she accepts the invitation. [...] A similar road toward flirtatious innuendo seems to be at work in the following example. / FIELD NOTE / Fred: Who's that beautiful girl in that great sports car?! / Shirley: ((lightheartedly)) Shut up and get in the car! / Fred: You mean I get to ride with the beautiful girl? / {{[...] Fred offers a courtly compliment, which Shirley brushes aside with a rude retort. This creates an unusual event, and Fred's persistent repetition of the compliment makes a flirtatious intention seem likely.}} Of course, flirtatious may be touched off by more marked sexual innuendo. / FIELD NOTE / ((co-workers are working late, finishing a project)) / Velma: You know how it is when you're close but can't stop. / Sid: ((starts to give Velma a shoulder rub)) / Velma makes a comment with a possible sexual meaning, and Sid responds by initiating body contact (in a public place) to show that he hears (and follows up on) the sexual double entendre.
    • 2012 January 15, Paulina Palmer, The Queer Uncanny: New Perspectives on the Gothic, University of Wales Press, →ISBN, page 65:
      Donoghue represents the closet in Stir-Fry as a performance space of playful innuendo and verbal wit, while Hensher describes it in Kitchen Venom as an existential site to which the subject retreats in a paranoid attempt to avoid cultural and social definition.
    • 2016 September 29, Jane K. Cowan, Dance and the Body Politic in Northern Greece, Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 157:
      This is kalaburi, a joking banter that includes stories, jokes, wordplays (puns and double entendres, which are often sexual), and playful innuendo.
  3. (logic) A rhetorical device with an omitted, but obvious conclusion, made to increase the force of an argument.
  4. (law) Part of a pleading in cases of libel and slander, pointing out what and who was meant by the libellous matter or description.

Derived terms[edit]



innuendo (third-person singular simple present innuendos, present participle innuendoing, simple past and past participle innuendoed)

  1. (transitive, law) To interpret (something libellous or slanderous) in terms of what was implied.
    • 1894, Frank Towers Cooper, A Handbook of the Law of Defamation and Verbal Injury, page 119:
      A statement that a person's presence at a certain club may be "irksome," may be innuendoed that the person is of such bad character as not to be a fit associate with honourable men.

Further reading[edit]





  1. dative gerund of innuō