What is the connotative meaning of a word?


Quick Answer

The connotative meaning of a word refers to the feeling that a word invokes. This differs from its dictionary definition, which is called its "denotative" meaning. Two words can have similar denotations but very different connotations.

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Full Answer

For example, the words "miserly" and "thrifty" are both adjectives that describe a person who goes to certain lengths to save money. However, "miserly" has strong negative connotations, while "thrifty" evokes positive feelings in a reader. Ebenezer Scrooge, the protagonist of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol," is an extremely unpleasant individual who creates misery for himself and others through his penny-pinching ways. Therefore, applying the positive "thrifty" to him would be a mistake; "miserly" is much more appropriate. In this situation, choosing a definition with the wrong connotation would create the impression that a writer has somehow misunderstood a major character trait.

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