Denotative and Connotative Meanings
When defining words found in a text, often, words have a definition that is more than a dictionary definition. So, we can say that words have two definitions. A denotative meaning, and a connotative meaning.
The denotative meaning is the literal meaning of the word. So, basically, if you’re wondering what the word meant in its denotative meaning, then you could just look up the word in the dictionary, and the dictionary definition would describe the meaning of that word.
However, the connotative meaning of the word also involves the emotional reaction a word may invoke. It depends on the reader’s associations they may make with that word. So, it goes further than the denotative meaning.
And so, denotative meanings are generally used in non-fiction works. Whenever in a non-fiction work, the writer isn’t trying to be flowery, or use figurative language, so the actual definition of the word is what the word means in that context.
However, in fiction works, the connotative meaning of a word is often met. So, it’s important that readers learn to differentiate between when a connotative or denotative meaning is being used.
And so, the reader can usually determine by the context clues whether the author is using the denotative or connotative meaning of a word.Practice tests help you remember. Take this mini-test to solidify your memory.