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Connotative meaning

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Connotative meaning

Contrary to the denotative meaning of a word that refers to the literal sense of a word, connotative meaning appends thoughts, feelings, images and experiences to the meaning of word. The connotative meaning of a word refers to what the word suggests to a person based on his or her experiences and emotional or psychological association with the word. For instance, the word cat may have two connotative meanings to two different individuals. One person may have grown with cats and learned to enjoy their company, and the cat may have attacked the other person at some stage of his or her life. While the first person will associate good and comfortable feelings and judgment with the word cat, the second person will associate the word cat with unpleasant judgment and emotions. Therefore, the word cat will have two discordant connotative meanings.

Another practical example is the word home. A person who comes from a happy and well-to-do family will associate good emotions with the word based on his or her experiences. However, an individual who has experienced hardships at home and a family without love and care will associate the word home with unpleasant feelings and judgment. In essence, spoken words have different connotative meanings and impacts on various people. That is why journalists choose their words carefully to avert alienation of readers, that is, maintain neutral ground. Connotative meaning is also applicable in formal and informal situations. For instance, when addressing older people, those in positions of authority or those you do not know, a person is likely to use formal connotation such as using the word “grandfather” instead of “grandpa” (Riebs, Karl and Reeves, 2005, N. p). It is imperative to note that having two different connotative meanings refers to positive connotation and negative connotation. The ideal choice is to try as much as possible to use neutral connotation that will be favorable to all people.