21 Oct /15


As a result of a misunderstood freedom of speech and especially from the over-secured and convenient courtesy of the Internet anonymity, people seem to spit all kinds of verbal waste material with great ease. If we would read into the given situation positively, then the classic Nietzsche phrase “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” should apply to the virtual jungle out there.

Paradoxically enough though, not only the more freedom of speech is resulting as non-liberating, but more offence is taken. To achieve political correctness on that slippery arena, one has to master virtuous rhetorical skills. It takes a perfect diplomacy and fair shares of hints and winks and innuendoes to ultimately convey one’s opinion on a trivial or ordinary topic of choice.

Today’s word “Innuendo” is a noun, that comes from the Latin innuendo by meaning of “pointing to, giving a nod to”. The term entered the English language as a legal phrase for the medieval Latin formula used in legal documents to introduce a parenthetical explanation of the precise reference of a preceding noun, with the sense of “to wit, that is to say”.

The first known written usage of our word comes in regard to marriage law, from a 1564 Child-Marriages, Divorces, and Ratifications in the Diocese of Chester.

Explanation of innuendo

An explanation of the legal term comes nearly a century later, in Thomas Blount’s Glossographia, where the British lexicographer defined around 11,000 hard words of foreign origin which had found their way into the 17th century English tongue and where our word is interpreted as: “Innuendo, is a Law term, most used in Declarations and other pleadings..to declare and design the person or thing which was named uncertain before; as to say, he (innuendo the Plaintiff) is a Thief.”

The colloquial use of the word innuendo is as an indirect suggestion, an allusive remark concerning a person or thing, especially one of a deprecatory kind. It is a fancy word and Robert Burns uses it masterfully in his letter, written on 13th November, in the long gone year of 1788, where he expresses his great pleasure of dining at the Dunlop House: “They so intoxicated me with their sly insinuations and delicate innuendoes of Compliment that if it had not been for a lucky recollection..I had certainly looked on myself as a person of no small consequence.”

Another example of how to incorporate innuendo in our daily vocabulary of the politically correct member of society we find in the work of the American historian and diplomat John Lothrop Motley, in his history of the Netherlands in the 16th century, The Rise of the Dutch Republic from 1855: “The Cardinal omitted nothing in the way of anecdote or innuendo which could injure the character of the leading nobles”.