Connotation Examples – Definition & Types

Any word could mean different from its literal meaning because it depends to whatever meaning the sender of the message would want to relay. Sometimes, there are times wherein you would not directly say what you actually felt but would only use words that would only imply. One method of implying our feeling into the words we use is connotation. You may also see Examples of Verbal Irony.



What Is Connotation?

Words have their own basic definitions but it could have a lot various connotations depending on the emotions or meaning implied by the sender of the message. You may also see Assonance and Consonance Examples.

Connotation, as defined by Merriam Webster, means that something suggested by a word or thing. It could also mean implication. It is also defined as the suggestion of a meaning by a word apart from the thing it explicitly names or describes. You may also see Examples of Situational Irony – Definition.

The feelings or ideas meant by the sender of the message to a word is an additional meaning to its literal or main meaning. You may also see Examples of Situational Irony – Definition.



Types of Connotations

Connotations are classified as positive, negative, or neutral. It depends on how the words are used by the speaker or the writer. You may also see Examples of Situational Irony – Definition.


a. Positive

Positive connotations are used to imply positive emotions and associations. You may also see Dramatic Irony – Definition and Examples.

For example:

The aroma of the food being cooked by my mother in the kitchen wafts across the entire house.

Aroma here means that it is inviting. You may also see Irony Examples for Kids.

b. Negative

Negative connotations are used to imply negative emotions and associations. You may also see Antiphrasis Examples — Definition & Usage.

For example:

The stench of the food being cooked by my mother in the kitchen wafts across the entire house.

Stench here means that it is not pleasing to those and is not inviting at all.  You may also see Satire Examples in Literature.


c. Neutral

Neutral connotations means that the word used is neither positive nor negative. You may also see Examples of Assonance for Kids.



Connotation Examples

Below are a few connotation examples:

1.My brother is such a chicken every time we would watch horror films. (chicken here means coward)
2. You are such a dog retorting back to your teacher; you could’ve just shut your mouth (dog connotes shamelessness)
3. Everyone likes her because she is a dove a heart. (dove connotes peace or gentility)
4. There’s no place like home. (home refers to family, comfort, and security)
5. I’ve had enough of expecting something good from politicians; they always keep on breaking their promises anyway. (politician connotes wickedness and insincerity)
6. She does not like going to the bar because she thinks there are a lot of pushy guys there. (pushy connotes loud-mouthed, insisting, and irritating)

Connotation Examples in Literature

Literature is rich with connotations; here are some examples:


“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” – Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare (a summer’s day connotes beauty it also implies the fairness of his beloved.)

“She’s all states, and all princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.” The Sun Rising by John Donne (all states, and all princes, I connotes the fact that the two subjects in the poem are wealthier than others in the world because of their love)

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.” – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (ears connote listening.)

“The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.” – Out, Out by Robert Frost (life connotes blood)

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.” – As you Like It by William Shakespeare (stage connotes the world and players connote their lives.)

ANTONIOHie thee, gentle Jew.
The Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind. – The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (this is a negative connotation towards Jews and kindness positively connotes towards Christians)

“And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.– Mending Wall by Robert Frost (the wall connotes division and but can somehow mean protection)

JULIET: What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O! be some other name: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet. – Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Montague reminds Juliet of the family feud between Capulets and Montagues. She connotes that it’s just a name and it shouldn’t matter and go between her relationship with Romeo who is a Montague)

Hobbes: Why are you digging a hole?
Calvin: I am looking for buried treasure!
Hobbes: What have you found?
Calvin: A few dirty rocks, a weird root, and some disgusting grubs.
Hobbes: On your first try??
Calvin: There’s treasure everywhere! – Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (the word treasure has the positive connotation of something valuable.)


Examples of Connotation in Movies

Take note of the italicized words:

  • Clementine: I apply my personality into paste.
    Joel: Oh, I doubt that very much.
    Clementine: Well, you don’t know me so… you don’t know, do you?
    Joel: Sorry, I was… just trying to be nice.
    Clementine: Yeah… I got it…
    Clementine: … I’m Clementine, by the way.
    Joel: I’m Joel.
    Clementine: Hi, Joel.
    Clementine: No jokes about my name… Nooo, you wouldn’t do that. You were trying to be nice.
    Joel: I don’t know any jokes about your name.
    – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  • Buddy: I didn’t know you had elves working here!
    Miles: Oh, well, you’re, you’re hilarious, My Friend.
    Walter: He doesn’t, uh… Get back to the story, please.
    Miles: All right, okay. [Clears throat] So, on the cover, about the title…
    Buddy: Does Santa know that you left the workshop?
    Miles: You know, we’re all laughing our heads off…
    Buddy: Did you have to borrow a reindeer to get down here?
    Walter: Buddy, go back to the basement.
    Miles: Hey, Jackweed. I get more action in a week than you’ve had in your entire life. I’ve got houses in L.A., Paris & Vail, each one with a 70-Inch plasma screen. So I suggest you wipe that stupid smile off your face before I come over and smack it off! You feeling strong, my friend? Call me elf one more time!
    Buddy: [Whispering] He’s an angry elf.
    – The Angry Elf (2003)


Function of Connotation

Connotation, particularly in literature, allows writer to broaden their horizons and dimensions. It means that their creativity is limitless and knows no bounds. If they would only write words with their own literal mean, it would not mean as much and can even sound bland to those who would be reading their works. It gives new meaning to words and could even help the writers explain what’s in their heads to their readers effectively. You may also want to read Examples of Assonance.

More Education

More Examples in