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Connotation / Denotation. Denotation. The dictionary definition of a word. The word’s literal, intended definition. Example: Home: a place where someone lives Residence: a place where someone lives Dwelling: a building in which a person lives House: a building in which a person lives.

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Denotation
Denotation

  • The dictionary definition of a word.

  • The word’s literal, intended definition.

    Example:

    Home: a place where someone lives

    Residence: a place where someone lives

    Dwelling: a building in which a person lives

    House: a building in which a person lives


Denotation1
Denotation

  • Gay: an adjective synonymous with happy

  • “b” word: a female dog

  • Ignorant: being uneducated or lacking knowledge about a subject

  • Female: a person who as two XX chromosomes and has a vagina and uterus.


Connotation
Connotation

  • The feelings or emotions associated with a word.

  • Often has a greater influence on meaning than the denotation

  • Develops over time through cultural changes

  • Difficult for language learners to recognize and can cause problems


Connotation1
Connotation

Example:

Positive connotation:

Home: a loving place where a family comes together and lives

Neutral connotation:

Residence: a place where someone lives

Dwelling: a building in which a person lives

House: a building in which a person lives


Negative connotation
Negative Connotation

  • Gay: stupid, effeminate

  • “b” word: an unpleasant woman or a man lacking masculine characteristics.

  • Ignorant: stupid

  • Female: In some situations, (“Those feee-males bothering me.”) it actually carries the same negative connotations as the “b” word.


Positive or negative
Positive or Negative?

difficult

challenging

stingy

economical

headstrong

determined

nitpicking

meticulous

childish

Childlike

Dinky

Tiny

Small

Fun-size


Bottom line
Bottom Line

  • Be aware that words can be offensive to people even when they are not intended to be.

  • When choosing words in writing, you need to be aware of connotations so you do not send an unintended message.


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