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Intermediate English Course Writing Precisely: Connotation and Denotation

Posted on December 6, 2016 at 9:40 AM

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Assalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh

Rabi-Al`Awwal 7, 1438/December 6, 2016

Intermediate English Course


Writing Precisely: Connotation and Denotation


Connotation is the unspoken or unwritten meaning associated with a word beyond its exact, dictionary meaning, or denotation.


Knowing the connotations and denotation of words will help you express ideas with exactness. You can easily verify a word's denotation by looking up the word in a dictionary because the denotation is the explicit, or stated, meaning of the word. However, you will usually not find the word's connotations in a dictionary. Connotations are implicit, that is, implied or understood.


Your intuitions, based on your study and use of the English language, help you judge which word is best for your purpose. For instance, what connotations do you associate with the words living room and parlor? Which of these two words would you use to complete the following sentencs?


"The butler ushered the guest into the _________________, where they were seated and asked to wait for the master of the house."


The denotations of the words living room and parlor are the same; each word can be used to define the other. The connotations of the two words are different, however, and the words cannot be used interchangeably without affecting the meaning.


For example, parlor brings to mind a formal room that is elaborately furnished. Other words in the sentence also connote formality: butler, ushered, seated, master, and even house. Living room, however, connotes comfort, relaxation, and friendliness.


Complete Exercise 1. Determining Denotations and Connotations.


Use a dictionary, write the denotation of the following words. Then based on your knowledge of English and on your imagination and experiences, list at least three connotations you associate with each defined word.


Example: moor

denotation: a broad tract of open rolling wasteland, usually covered with heather and often marshy

connotations: drama, storms, danger, mystery stories, desolation


Words: volcano, maturity, history, New Orleans, video


See you tomorrow inshaAllah, 9 a.m.

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