When you look up a word in the dictionary, you will find its literal, or denotative, meaning. This is the basic definition of the word. However, many words — especially nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs — also have connotative meanings. Discover the emotional side of words by reviewing some connotation brianowens.tv.


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connotative words brianowens.tv with group of children

Connotative Word Meaning

Connotation refers to a meaning suggested or implied by the use of a particular word, beyond its literal (denotative) meaning. Connotation impacts how readers perceive the overall meaning of what a writer or speaker is trying to communicate. Depending on how a word has been used over time, or the context in which it is being used, the term may have a positive, negative or neutral connotation.

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Connotative vs. Denotative Meanings

To fully understand a word and use it correctly, you need to know both its denotation (the standard definition) and its connotation (the feelings associated with it).

The denotative meaning of a word is its official dictionary definition. A word"s connotative meaning includes shades of meaning, such as emotions, associated with the term.

The Importance of Connotation

When choosing words to use in language, it"s important to consider both types of meaning. This is an important key to choosing the right words. If you aren"t fully aware of a word"s connotation, you may choose an inappropriate synonym in your writing, which can lead to confusion or even to your reader taking offense.


Example: Birthday Activity Request

If you say that you want to do something different for your birthday this year, that doesn"t convey the same meaning as if you said you wanted to do something unique. The denotative meanings of "different" and "unique" are similar (not the same or unlike). However, the connotative meanings of these two words are not the same.

Different would mean something other than what you did last year or in previous years. Unique would imply something highly unusual, such as an activity not commonly associated with birthdays or something that you (or most people) have never done before

Someone trying to come up with a way to celebrate your birthday will probably find it much more challenging to identify a "unique" activity rather than one that is just "different."


Example: Describing a Group

As another example, consider the words group, clique, club, and gang. All four have basically the same denotative meaning: a set of more than one person. Each of these words has a different connotative meaning, however.

Group has a neutral connotation. The word simply describes a number of people. It does not inspire either positive or negative feelings.Clique also means a group of people, but it carries a negative connotation. This is because "clique" is typically used in circumstances where the group is known for excluding others. This word should be used carefully: If you want to be thought of as a welcoming group, the negative connotation of this word will turn people off!Gang is defined as an organized group, but it has very negative connotations. The use of this term suggests criminal activity and/or violent behavior. Club also refers to a group of people, but this word has a more positive connotation because a club is a collection of people that voluntarily come together for a shared passion or purpose.

Example: Describing Demeanor

If you know someone whose personality style is the opposite of high-strung, it"s important to choose an appropriate word to describe the person"s demeanor. Should you use relaxed, lackadaisical or easygoing?

Relaxed is a fairly neutral or positive way to describe someone"s temperament, but it doesn"t imply that the person is this way all the time. Someone could be relaxed now, but become very agitated or excited at another time. Easygoing is also likely to be perceived as a positive or natural description. It is more likely to be viewed as a general statement about a person"s general nature rather than a snapshot of a moment in time. Lackadaisical is never a compliment. Someone who is lackadaisical is relaxed and easygoing, but that person is also probably careless and disengaged. This term has a negative connotation.

Connotative Words: brianowens.tv

To see more brianowens.tv of how words with similar denotations can have positive, neutral or negative connotations, refer to the chart below.

Positive Connotation

Neutral Connotation

Negative Connotation

interested

curious

nosy

employ

use

exploit

thrifty

saving

stingy

steadfast

tenacious

stubborn

sated

filled

crammed

courageous

confident

conceited

unique

different

peculiar

meticulous

selective

picky

vintage

old

decrepit

elated

happy

manic


Connotative Meaning: Practice Exercises

Now that you"re more familiar with connotative words, see how well you do with these fun exercises. The answers are below, so don"t look ahead until you have tried to answer on your own.


Exercise 1: Finding Words With Negative Connotations

Read the sentences below. Identify the word(s) that have a negative connotation.

Bedford is a gritty neighborhood, but the rent is affordable. On my flight to Los Angeles, I sat next to this geezer. He was very old. Every morning my neighbor takes his mutt to the park. It always barks loudly when leaving the building.You need to be pushy when you are looking for a job.Bob is bullheaded sometimes, but he always gets the job done.

Exercise 2: Choose a Word With a Positive Connotation

Choose the word with the most positive connotation to complete the sentences below.

I love spending time with my aunt. She has a very (childlike, youthful, childish) outlook on life. I enjoy finding ways to make the most of my budget by being (frugal, miserly, cheap). I am (confident, arrogant, egotistical) that I will be selected for a role in the school play. I realize that you"re feeling (nosy, prying, inquisitive), but I"d rather not discuss the matter. My cousin is very (blathering, jabbering, talkative).

Exercise 3: What"s the Connotation?

For each of the sentences below, determine if the bold word has a positive or negative connotation.

How long have you been dieting? Maybe too long. You look so skinny. I can tell you put a lot of work into your book report. It is extraordinary.I hope to look like my sister when I grow up. She is absolutely gorgeous. I know that Eddie and I are the same age, but he is just so juvenile. It"s certainly unusual to use Comic Sans font on a resume.

Answers for Exercise 1: Finding Words With Negative Connotations

The terms with a negative connotation are marked in bold.

Bedford is a gritty neighborhood, but the rent is affordable.On my flight to Los Angeles, I sat next to this geezer. He was very old.Every morning my neighbor takes his mutt to the park. It always barks loudly when leaving the building.You need to be pushy when you are looking for a job.Bob is bullheaded sometimes, but he always gets the job done.

Answers for Exercise 2: Choose a Word With a Positive Connotation

Options with the most positive connotation are marked in bold.

I love spending time with my aunt. She has a very (childlike, youthful, childish) outlook on life. I enjoy finding ways to make the most of my budget by being (frugal, miserly, cheap). I am (confident, arrogant, egotistical) that I will be selected for a role in the school play. I realize that you"re feeling (nosy, prying, inquisitive), but I"d rather not discuss the matter. My cousin is very (blathering, talkative, jabbering).

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Exercise 3: What"s the Connotation

Answers appear in parentheses after each sentence.

How long have you been dieting? Maybe too long. You look so skinny. (negative - implies the person has lost too much weight)I can tell you put a lot of work into your book report. It is extraordinary. (positive - implies that the results are very good)I hope to look like my sister when I grow up. She is absolutely gorgeous. (positive - implies great beauty)I know that Eddie and I are the same age, but he is just so juvenile. (negative - implies immature and childish)It"s certainly unusual to use Comic Sans font on a resume. (negative - implies that this is a bad idea)

Use Context to Get a Sense of the Word

As you can see, it"s important to understand the connotation as well as the denotation of a word before you use it. Otherwise, you run the risk of picking a word that doesn"t effectively communicate your intended meaning. It takes practice to understand both the connotation and denotation of a new word, but it"s well worth the effort. The best way to learn a word"s connotation is to review it in actual sentences to get a sense of how it is used. There are many brianowens.tv of connotation in literature to review. It"s also helpful to compare how synonyms are used so you can see which are positive, negative or neutral. These strategies can help prepare you to select the best denotative and connotative words for your purposes.