• Legis Scriptor



Keywords: innuendo,extra aid, to insinuate , that is to say, rude.


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, meaning 'by hinting.' In medieval legal documents innuendo introduced inserted remarks, meaning 'to quote' or 'that is to say,' and the word was adopted in English with the same feature. By the late 17th century innuendo was used to refer to the addition itself and to any indirect implication more generally. The notion of negative possibilities for these remarks came to predominate later on.

According to the Dictionary of Advanced Oxford Learner, an innuendo is "an implied comment about someone or something, usually suggesting something negative, cruel or rude," such as: "innuendos about her private life" or "the song is full of sexual innuendo." ...

About innuendo:

An innuendo (pronounced in-yu-EN-do) is when you say something on the surface that's friendly and innocent but implicitly implies an insult or disrespectful remark, a dirty joke, or even social or political criticism. Innuendos are widely used as a socially acceptable way of being critical, rude, sexual, humorous or even flirtatious in everyday conversations. The word innuendo derives from the innuere sense of the Latin expression for "making a sign to" or "nod to."


Imagine someone dating a friend in secret. It would be one potential usage of innuendo to say:

Mark has spent a great deal of time with Allison if you know what I mean.

Using "if you know what I mean" is a common way of communicating to people you use innuendo. The remark suggests that Mark was doing more than just "spending time" with Allison. The term is used in this example to commute in a way that is socially appropriate.

Example: 2

Imagine a friend planning to cheat on a test with a stolen response key for a second example. He goes on to say:

I found a way in which to get some "extra support" on the exam.

Using quotation marks to underline the word "extra aid" is a common way of using innuendo. This means that the term is used here in a special way and helps your friend to joke about cheating without saying he's cheating; it's a discreet way to talk about doing something that isn't authorized.

The importance of using innuendo:

Innuendos allows speakers and authors opportunities to say something without really doing something which can be really helpful if you want to say anything potentially offensive or relate to illegal or anti-social behavior. Although innuendo may be used for politeness, it is typically more sarcastic, offensive or bawdy. Innuendos may be used to threaten individuals and reputations without breaching the social etiquette codes, to ridicule governments or organisations without getting into trouble, or to say anything offensive humorously without any repercussions. In other words, innuendo is a strong technique of contouring the boundaries of civilized discourse. You should be cautious though; if people understand your innuendo, sometimes it could still cause you trouble.

Importance of innuendo in literature:

Innuendo is an aspect popular in romantic poetry and humorous prose.


For an example of prose innuendo, read this excerpt from the City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare:

"The rat squeaked glumly, huddled in the hollow of its paws. Delighted, she was pulling him close to her ear. "My poor boy," she crooned, almost as if he were a real child. "It's going to be perfect, sorry Simon, I promise-"

"I'd rather feel bad for him too much," Jace said. "Maybe this is the nearest he's ever got to second base."

"And shutup! "Clary glared angrily at Jace, but she loosened the rat 's grasp."

"Second base" in this case, is a dirty innuendo. As if the rat were a guy, Clary loosens her hold on the rat, demonstrating she's humiliated by the sexual joke of her mate.

Related terms:

Both euphemism and innuendo are inventive ways of communicating discomforting thoughts. There are two distinctions between euphemism and innuendo; one is that a euphemism is not meant to be a hint; everyone will know without wondering what a euphemism implies. And the second distinction is that euphemism is not used to threaten people; it is just a discreet way of referring to an uncomfortable matter. Innuendo is used for intentionally suggesting negative or offensive concepts.

An example of euphemism versus innuendo is given here:


On Friday Scott was forced to miss work. One coworker makes use of euphemism.


Scott feels a bit under the weather and today he 's going to have to miss work.

"A little under the weather" is a euphemism for sick, substituting a happier image for the image of someone throwing up or sneezing.

Another coworker has a different answer.


Hmm. It seems odd that on yet another Friday, of all days, Scott has skipped work.

This means that the explanation for Scott's lack of work is not fatigue but preferring to spend a three-day weekend. He might not be very sick but on a fun vacation, going to a concert or watching television.


If you listen carefully, watch carefully, and read between the lines, you'll find innuendos everywhere, from romantic poetry to pop songs to animated movies for children! People love to joke about sex and other forbidden subjects and innuendo is a fairly safe, enjoyable and polite way to do that.