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Words with Positive and Negative Connotation

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Basics on the topic Words with Positive and Negative Connotation

Words with Positive and Negative Connotation – Definition

When talking or writing about ideas and feelings, word choice is extremely important. If you want to improve your word choice, you need to look closer into the words’ meaning. We distinguish between two types of meaning: denotation and connotation. Let’s look at the definition of the word connotation to get a better understanding of its meaning.

Connotation is the feeling or mood created by a word. Connotation can be positive and negative, meaning that we get either a positive or a negative feeling or association about something when hearing the word. It can be described as the thing or feeling one thinks of when hearing the word.

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Words with Positive and Negative Connotation – Examples

Let’s explore the world of connotations with some real-life examples! Some words have only positive or only negative connotations. For example, the word inexpensive has a positive connotation. It describes something that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Cheap also describes something that does not cost a lot of money, but it gives a feeling that it is not well-made.

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When we express our positive feelings about something, we need to use words with positive connotations. If we want our readers or audience to understand that we feel negatively about something or someone, we use words with negative connotations.

In the example above, we are talking about a machine that we want to sell. In this case, we would use the word inexpensive because it has a positive connotation: This machine is really inexpensive.

Some words can have either positive or negative connotations, depending on the context. For example, the word challenge can have a positive connotation when we are talking about a challenge that will help us grow and be better at something. It can also have a negative connotation when we are talking about the difficult obstacle that stops us from doing what we want.

Words with Positive and Negative Connotation – Practice

Now let’s read the sentences and try to use words that have positive and negative connotations correctly.

Take a look at the first sentence: Being ___________ has helped her complete the research for the science class.

Which of these two words would you use to fill in the gap in this sentence – curious or nosy? The word curious has a positive connotation, as it describes a person who wants to learn new things. The word nosy has a negative connotation. It suggests that a person is prying into other people’s private business. This sentence requires a word with a positive connotation because it describes a person who has a desire for knowledge which helped her complete the research project. Therefore, we need to use the word curious: Being curious has helped her complete the research for the science class.

Take a look at another sentence: The lead singer of the band only talked about himself during the interview, which made him seem really ___________.

Which of these two words would you use to fill in the gap in this sentence – confident or arrogant? The word confident has a positive connotation as it describes a person who believes in themself. The word arrogant has a negative connotation. It suggests that a person is self-obsessed and doesn’t care about other people. This sentence requires a word with a negative connotation because it describes a person who only talked about himself and not about other members of the band. Therefore, we need to use the word arrogant: The lead singer of the band only talked about himself during the interview, which made him seem really arrogant.

Words with Positive and Negative Connotation – Lists

To see more examples of negative and positive words in terms of their connotation, consult the following table:

Positive Connotation Negative Connotation
adventurous reckless
assertive pushy
discuss argue
extraordinary bizzare
firm stubborn
look stare
sincere blunt
request demand
thrifty stingy
vintage old

Connotation and Denotation

Connotation and denotation are two essential characteristics of word meaning in linguistic analysis. We have already looked at the meaning of the term connotation. Connotation is the feeling or mood created by a word. It can be positive or negative.

Denotation refers to a literal meaning of a word. The denotation of a word is the literal meaning you can find in a dictionary.

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Words with Positive and Negative Connotation – Summary

Words have two types of meaning. Denotation is the exact definition of a word. Connotation is the feeling or mood created by using that word. Connotations can be positive and negative. Connotations help us express our ideas and feelings and better communicate with others. Connotation is a subjective nuanced meaning, that is created through associations.

For example, a denotation of the word snake is a long limbless reptile, while its connotation is often negative and can be related to the feeling of danger. Therefore, a person who is dangerous or capable of betrayal is sometimes called a “snake”.

Now you know how to identify which words have positive and negative connotations. Do you want more practice? Check out our video, activities and worksheets!

Frequently Asked Questions about Words with Positive and Negative Connotation

What is the positive and negative connotation?
What are some negative and positive connotation examples?
Why it is important to understand the difference between positive and negative connotation words?
What is the primary difference between connotation and denotation?
How does connotation affect our daily communication?
Can connotation change over time, and why?
What role does connotation play in marketing and advertising?
How can one use connotation effectively in creative writing?
What ethical considerations should we keep in mind when using connotation?
In what ways does connotation affect visual communication, such as graphic design?
What is the connection between gender and connotation, and how can we promote gender equity through language?

Transcript Words with Positive and Negative Connotation

Words with positive and negative connotation. “So, if you’re feeling a bit stingy and want a chance to own this peculiar product, call the number on your screen right now!” “Koko, I don’t get it no one is buying any.” "Cut!" “What is it you want them to know about the machine?” “That it is a good deal and a unique product.” Looks like Pip isn’t having much luck selling the Ultimate Dessert Maker. His description isn’t making anyone want to buy his product. When trying to express our ideas and feelings, word choice is very important. Let's think about Pip's word choice. Words have two types of meaning. One type is called denotation which is the exact definition of a word you would find in a dictionary. The other is called connotation, which is the feeling or mood created by a word. Connotation can be positive or negative, meaning we get a positive or negative feeling about the subject when hearing the words. Let's think about Pip's word choices. Pip said, if you’re feeling stingy and want a chance to own this peculiar product. The denotation of the word stingy means someone who is unwilling to spend a lot of money, but it has negative connotations because it brings about negative feelings of someone who is unwilling to share with others. Pip called his product peculiar. The denotation, or definition, of peculiar, is something that is different from others but the negative connotation, the feelings the word brings, is that of something being strange or odd. No wonder no one was buying the machine! Pip is trying to sell his Ultimate Dessert Maker, so he should use words like these: If you’re feeling thrifty, and want to own this one-of-a-kind product, call the number on your screen, right now. These words have a similar denotation as the ones Pip used before, but the connotation gives a positive message that the person is resourceful with their money and the product is special. When you want to express your feelings and ideas precisely, you need to pay close attention to the connotation of your words. Let’s practise using connotations to convey ideas. Read this sentence and fill in the word that has the more positive connotation. If you are wanting to convey the message that the machine is well built, which word fits best? Indestructible or hefty? We would say, this is an indestructible machine. Even though both words mean strong, hefty gives the feeling that it would be too heavy to manage and indestructible creates the idea that the machine will not break. Read this sentence, which word fits best? Cheap or inexpensive? We would say that this machine is really inexpensive. Both words mean not costing a lot of money, but cheap gives the feeling that the product is not well made. Inexpensive creates the feeling that you are saving a lot of money by buying it. Finally, read this sentence. Which word gives the best connotation about the dessert? Delicious or satisfying? We would say, you can make this delicious dessert yourself. Although the word satisfying isn't a negative feeling, it isn't as strong as the mood created by the word delicious. While Pip gets ready to go back on the air, let's review. Remember, words have two types of meaning, denotation, the exact definition of a word and connotation, the feeling or mood created by using specific words. Connotations help us to convey ideas clearly when communicating with others. "Three, two, one." "This magnificent machine makes the most delectable, mouthwatering desserts at an affordable price! Call now to own this one-of-a-kind product!"

Words with Positive and Negative Connotation exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Words with Positive and Negative Connotation.
  • Choose words with a positive connotation.

    Hints

    Connotation is the feeling or mood created by a word. Stingy and peculiar need to be replaced because they have a negative connotation and don't work in a sales pitch.

    The denotation, or dictionary definition of the word, bizarre is very strange or unusual. Do you think this has a positive or negative connotation?

    The denotation, or dictionary definition of the word, cheap is low in price or of little worth. Do you think this has a positive or negative connotation?

    Solution

    "If you're feeling thrifty, and want a chance to own this one-of-a-kind product, call the number on your screen right now!"

    The connotation of thrifty is that a person is resourceful with their money.
    The connotation of one-of-a-kind is that the product is special.
    These words fit much better for Pip's sales pitch.

  • Determine if the word has a positive or negative connotation.

    Hints

    The definition of valiant is similar to brave. Do you think this has a positive or negative connotation?

    The denotation, or dictionary definition of the word cheap is low in price or of little worth. Do you think this has a positive or negative connotation?

    The denotation of efficient is achieving the maximum from the minimum spent. Do you think this has a positive or negative connotation?

    The denotation of inventive is showing creativity or original thought. Do you think this has a positive or negative connotation?

    There are three words with a positive connotation and three words with a negative connotation.

    Solution

    Positve Connotation

    • Inventive
    • Efficient
    • Valiant
    Negative Connotation
    • Bizzare
    • Cheap
    • Suspicious

  • Determine positive or negative connotation.

    Hints

    The words velvety and course are used to describe the materials of the different bears. Which do you think has a positive connotation and which has a negative connotation?

    The words rough and precise are used to describe the stitching of the different bears. Which do you think has a positive connotation and which has a negative connotation?

    Solution

    The words velvety and course are both used to describe the materials of the different bears
    however

    • Velvety has a positive connotation of being soft and smooth.
    • Course has a negative connotation of being rough.
    The words rough and precise are both used to describe the stitching of the different bears
    however
    • Precise has a positive connotation of being exact and accurate.
    • Rough has a negative connotation of being uneven and not smooth.

  • Pair the words with the correct denotation and connotation.

    Hints

    The words cheap and economical share the same denotation, a person who does not like to spend a lot of money.

    The words unique and abnormal share the same denotation, being unusual and unlike other people, places, or things.

    Solution

    The words cheap and economical share the same denotation, 'A person who does not like to spend a lot of money.'
    However,

    • cheap has a negative connotation as a person who does not spend money even when they SHOULD.
    • economical has a positive connotation as a person who is resourceful and does not NEED to always spend money.
    The words unique and abnormal share the same denotation, 'being unusual, and unlike other people, places, or things.'
    However
    • unique has a positive connotation as being special or above average.
    • abnormal has a negative connotation as being strange or odd.

  • Find the words with positive connotations.

    Hints

    Sometimes words can have similar denotations (definition of meaning) but different connotations.
    Example: Stingy and thrifty are two words with similar denotations, but different connotations.

    The denotations of confident and arrogant both mean to have high self-esteem or sense of self worth.
    Which do you think has a positive connotation?

    The denotation of stubborn and dedicated is to stick to an opinion or plan of action, despite difficulty.
    Which do you think has a positive connotation?

    Solution

    The words with a positive connotation are:

    • Dedicated
    • Confident
    • Interested

  • Complete the sales pitch.

    Hints

    Look for words that promote the adventure park and paint a picture of it being somewhere fantastic and exciting.

    The best fit for the gap

    "_____ your family to a game of mini golf"

    is either challenge or confront. Both have similar denotations. Which one do you think has the positive connotation?

    The best fit for the gap

    "with an _____ plunge in the rushing rapids"

    is either terrifying or exhilarating. Both have similar denotations. Which one do you think has the positive connotation?

    Solution

    All the appropriate missing words with positive connotations are shown below in bold.

    Discover a world of water adventure at Adventure Water Park. Our park offers an array of exciting attractions and activities that will keep you entertained all day. Go wild on our slides and flumes, relax in the heated pools, challenge your family to a game of mini golf and zip around in the lazy river. Top it all off with an exhilarating plunge on the rushing rapids. Let loose and have fun – come to Adventure Water Park today!