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It is a figure in which something unpleasant or damaging is artfully hinted instead of being plainly stated. It is also known as Insinuation. 

In this figure more is meant than meets the ear or eye. An undercurrent of hostile feeling is generally responsible for the use of an innuendo. Etymologically it means an oblique hint. It generally points at something damaging to the character or reputation of a person or thing against whom or which it is applied. In it an imputation of an injurious nature is made very artfully but no direct charge is brought. Here 'the writer or speaker keeps his main purpose out of view, and leaves it to be inferred by those whom he addresses'. According to Fowler it means 'any injurious insinuation '. In the sentence 'As there isn't a servant, one doesn't have to lock things up, which is a blessing ' we get an instance of innuendo,  for here something damaging against the character of a person (i.e., a servant is thievish by nature) is hinted,  not directly stated.

The chief characteristics of this figure are given below:

(i) A damaging remark is intended against a person or thing. 

(ii) It is not plainly stated but only suggested in an oblique way

(iii) A hostile feeling prompts the speaker or writer to make such hurting remarks. 

(iv) The way of the expression shows that the damage is indirectly done.


a. I do not consult physicians for I hope to die without them.

b. The picture is splendid as the artist is an octogenarian. 


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