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Chemistry LibreTexts

Word Choice with Connotation and Denotation

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  • Flocabulary: Word Choice Video

    If you would like to read the lyrics to this video, they are attached below.


    As you could tell from the video, denotation is the literal meaning of the word. It is what you would find in the dictionary when you look it up. You can have multiple words that are similar or have exactly the same meaning when you look them up in a dictionary.


    Connotation is the emotions, images, or thoughts that are associated with a word. It is what a word implies. Words can be positive, negative, or sometimes they can be neutral. Although various words might have the same denotation, they can have very different connotations.


    Example #1: berserk and irrational

    • Both terms denote unreasonable and illogical behavior.
    • Berserk connotes behavior that is completely out of control, to the point of being reckless. It is a more extreme term and thus has a more negative connotation.
    • Irrational connotes behavior that is simply absurd or senseless; it implies a lack of logic rather than a lack of control and thus has a more positive connotation.

    Example #2: fragrance, stench, and smell

    • All terms have a similar denotation regarding odor.
    • Fragrance has a connotation that implies a more pleasant odor and so the connotation is positive.
    • Stench has a connotation that implies it is unpleasant and therefore negative in connotation.
    • Smell has a connotation that is neither pleasant or unpleasant. This would be a time when the word is neutral in connotation.

    In the quiz that follows, you will need to determine a word that fits into a sentence based off of it's connotation. If you would like some practice before competing this assignment use the following links to check yourself.

    Connotation and Denotation Self Check Quiz

    Connotation and Denotation Game