Denotations and Connotations
Denotation
A
word’s
denotation is its
literal meaning –
that is, the
definition you find
in a dictionary.
Connotation
A
word’s
connotation is the
feelings and ideas
associated with a
word.
Denotation and Connotation


Using a thesaurus, you
can find words that have
similar denotations but
different connotations.
For example: If you
looked up the word smile
in a thesaurus, you would
likely find the vocabulary
word smirk listed as a
synonym. Smile and
smirk have similar
denotations but different
connotations.



Smile suggests happiness,
while smirk suggests a
smugness (an offensive selfsatisfaction)
When someone smiles at us,
we have a happy emotion.
Happy emotions are positive,
so the word smile has a
positive connotation.
When someone smirks at us,
we have a sad or maybe a
mad emotion. Sad or mad
emotions are negative, so
the word smirk has a
negative connotation.
Denotation and Connotation
Other examples:
 Slim and Skinny both relate to being thin
in size. However, slim has a positive
connotation while skinny has a negative
connotation.
 Slim reminds me of someone that is fit and
trim. While Skinny reminds me of
someone that is undernourished.
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Denotations and Connotations