I looked up the meanings of the insinuate and imply. Insinuate, as shown on the site vocabulary.com, means suggest in an indirect or covert way, and imply means to express or state indirectly.

I was just wondering, are they interchangeable?

The following are some sentences where insinuate is used:

  1. But they share common stylistic traits, most notably a tendency to insinuate more than they state outright.

  2. I politely commented that he was right, a lot of people are offended by that term, insinuating that I was among them.

  3. "This gives Schmidt the opportunity to insinuate his desires" into the state’s technology strategy for schools, he said.

In these sentences, can we use imply, instead of insinuate?

  • 1
    There's also intimate (OED: To make known or communicate by any means however indirect; hence, to signify, indicate; to imply, to suggest, to hint at). Which to my ear at least is a closer synonym to imply, because it doesn't have the inherently negative associations of insinuate. Nov 18, 2017 at 16:13

1 Answer 1


The main difference in meaning between imply and insinuate is this taken from Merriam-Webster on the term insinuate:

"The word insinuate, on the other hand, usually includes a sense that the idea being conveyed is unpleasant, or that it is being passed along in a sly or underhanded way ("She insinuated that I cheated")".

But another difference is this: A person who hears someone says something can have the impression the speaker is insinuating or implying this or that. That's fine. But the term imply or implication may also be used in formal logic and philosophy whereas the term insinuate itself is not a formal term.

A logical implication or material implication is formal term in logic. It is written like this: A implies B, where the word implies is an arrow that cannot be transcribed here. But you can view it here: logical implication and this is the symbol for implication or implies: ⇒

As for "insinuating desires" into technology, that is a metaphorical use of the term and suggests slying introducing them into technology, as opposed to just doing it outright or in a clearly visible manner.

  • The implies sign ⇒ can be coded in Answers with ⇒. Nov 18, 2017 at 17:31
  • @StoneyB I copied it but do not understand what you mean by coding. Could you explain?
    – Lambie
    May 29, 2019 at 15:50
  • There is an explanation of the HTML codes for some characters in this formatting sandbox answer.
    – ColleenV
    May 29, 2019 at 15:54
  • This is not a character. It is a sign and I don't see it in the sandbox.
    – Lambie
    May 29, 2019 at 15:59
  • It’s a mnemonic alias for certain Unicode characters available in HTML. You can also use a numeric reference. Unfortunately I assumed the link in the answer I linked you, that briefly explains the syntax of these references, went directly to a table of the possible characters, but it doesn’t. Here’s a list of many of the entities with the codes to render them in your posts: dev.w3.org/html5/html-author/charref
    – ColleenV
    May 29, 2019 at 18:03

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