Open main menu



From Latin īnsinuō (to push in, creep in, steal in), from in (in) + sinus (a winding, bend, bay, fold, bosom)



insinuate (third-person singular simple present insinuates, present participle insinuating, simple past and past participle insinuated)

  1. To hint; to suggest tacitly (usually something bad) while avoiding a direct statement.
    She insinuated that her friends had betrayed her.
  2. (rare) To creep, wind, or flow into; to enter gently, slowly, or imperceptibly, as into crevices.
    • Woodward
      The water easily insinuates itself into, and placidly distends, the vessels of vegetables.
  3. (figuratively, by extension) To ingratiate; to obtain access to or introduce something by subtle, cunning or artful means.
    • 1995, Terry Pratchett, Maskerade, p. 242
      Nanny didn't so much enter places as insinuate herself; she had unconsciously taken a natural talent for liking people and developed it into an occult science.
    • John Locke
      All the art of rhetoric, besides order and clearness, are for nothing else but to insinuate wrong ideas, move the passions, and thereby mislead the judgment.
    • Dryden
      Horace laughs to shame all follies and insinuates virtue, rather by familiar examples than by the severity of precepts.
    • Clarendon
      He insinuated himself into the very good grace of the Duke of Buckingham.


Related termsEdit


Further readingEdit