Language is symbolic in a lot of ways. It is used to represent the ideas and feelings of the speaker, which may be interpreted in various manners. Sometimes, our language varies simply by its literal and figurative interpretations. Connotation and denotation are two tools that writers like to use to express themselves precisely to readers. But it’s also important to know the difference between these two, as they do share related concepts.
Connotation refers to the implied or secondary meaning of a word, in addition to its literal meaning. These are the type of words that consist of multiple underlying meanings of which we associate it with. They usually relate to an individual’s subjective, emotional, and cultural experiences. But keep in mind that these words may also suggest very different meanings, depending on the time and place it is used. For instance, “bad” can simply refer to something that is not good, but to most young people of this modern age, the word “bad” can be interpreted as something “cool”.
Some words may have a positive or negative connotation that depends on the speaker’s social, personal, and cultural experiences. Below are a few examples of words with positive and negative connotations:
These are just a few examples of connotations that come hand in hand. The first has a negative connotation, while the latter is positive.
If you’re wondering why connotations are so important to our everyday language, think about it this way. Imagine seeing a TV advertisement over a pair of shoes. Are you likely to purchase the pair of shoes if the advertiser referred to it as cheap instead of inexpensive? Naturally, this would be a major marketing strategy no-no in any scenario. That’s because saying that something is cheap could have many implications. You could be referring to more than just the price of the item, but to the quality of the material being used as well. This is why it is important to use the proper connotations while constructing your sentences.
Denotation typically refers to words with dictionary definitions. The literal meaning of a word helps us better understand its figurative association. So it’s almost impossible to understand the connotation of a word unless we are fairly knowledgeable about its denotation first.
In literature, it’s not unusual for poets and writers to create novels and poetic pieces by shying away from the literal meaning of words. Connotation and denotation are two important terms in the world of poetry. Not only does it set the tone accordingly, but it also provides a deeper meaning to the poem. For one thing, density is just one of the many elements of poetry. With the help of connotation, for example, you can say a lot with just a few words. It helps create imagery without much effort. But it’s not about looking for the fanciest word on the thesaurus, as poets often go for the most suitable words to fit their writing. However, denotation has a special place in poetry as well. But this is usually found in the context of the poem itself, where the exact meaning of the word must be derived from its context.
It’s important to be aware that connotation and denotation are not the same as figurative language and literal meanings. Although they may involve similar concepts, connotation and denotation refer to actual word choices rather than the phrases or lines of the poem. Hyperbole expressions, assonance, consonance, and various metaphor examples are just some poetic devices used in writing to create feelings and emotions that go along with connotations and denotations.
Connotation and denotation have both become a significant part of our language. Had writers been contented with just literal meanings of words, then the existence of abstract concepts and imaginative writing would have never existed. These words have paved the way for writers to explore the language based on social and cultural backgrounds. This also allows readers to enjoy broader and more vivid poetic pieces in the best way possible. You may also see the Metaphoric Poems.