Verb > insinuate

This word has Latin roots that literally mean “to curve in, to bend in, or to wind in.”

To insinuate something is to hint at it without saying it directly.

And, to insinuate yourself into something is to sneak your way into it.

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Part of speech:
Verb, the transitive kind: “we insinuated that they’re liars,” “the scene insinuates that the main character is a ghost,” “they insinuated themselves into our conversation.”

Other forms worth knowing:
insinuated, insinuating; insinuation; insinuator(s); insinuative

How to use it:

Most often, we use this formal, serious word to talk about people being indirect when it comes to uncomfortable topics.

Say that someone insinuates that something unpleasant is true (“He insinuated that their baby was ugly”), or that someone insinuates that something unpleasant happened (“She insinuated that their carelessness caused the accident”).

You can drop the word “that” from those phrases, if you like: “He insinuated she’s a racist.” “She insinuated his mother never taught him any manners.”

But, we can also use “insinuate” to talk about people and things that sneak themselves into situations where they don’t belong. “She insinuated herself into our discussions.” “This grammar error insinuated itself into our daily conversations.” “The movie insinuates itself into the nation’s conversation about race, but adds nothing to that conversation.” “The textbook authors are attempting to insinuate religion into the public curriculum.”

“How did palm oil insinuate itself into every corner of our lives? No single innovation caused palm oil consumption to soar. Instead, it was the perfect commodity at the right moment for industry after industry, each of which adopted it to replace ingredients and never turned back.”
— Paul Tullis, The Guardian, 19 February 2019

“It was sometimes faintly insinuated, and sometimes boldly asserted, that the same bloody sacrifices, and the same incestuous festivals, which were so falsely ascribed to the orthodox believers, were in reality celebrated by the Marcionites, by the Carpocratians, and by several other sects of the Gnostics…”
— Edward Gibbon, History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Volume 2, 1782