What is Connotation? And its Uses in Writing

The beauty of a language relies on the usage of words. Most importantly, the words you use set a tone for your conversation and reflect your thoughts. So, in order to convey the basic information or complex ideas in a smarter way, you can employ connotation in your language.

What is Connotation?

Connotation is an emotion or an idea carried by a word or a phrase in addition to its literal meaning. Generally, many words have a similar meaning but different connotations. Say, for example, take the following two sentences.

The camera bought by Jane was economical.

The camera bought by Jane was cheap.

Here, the word “economical” describes Jane as a logical person who gives good value to money or efforts. When the same sentence is expressed with the word “Cheap”, it sounds negative. Both the words share a similar literal meaning, but it connotes the feelings or ideas in a different manner.

Usually, the writers use connotations to add different shades of emotional intent to a word, a phrase, or a sentence. Depending upon your situation, you can also choose to implement connotations in your language when you speak or write.

Types of Connotations

Based on the usage, the connotations can be classified as positive, negative, or neutral.

Positive Connotation

The words that evoke positive feelings or emotions are referred to as Positive Connotations. For example, the sentence “Lin is a great conversationalist” gives a positive feeling because the word “Conversationalist” implies that Lin is good at engaging in conversation.

Negative Connotation

The words that provide negative feelings and associations are referred to as Negative Connotations. For example, if you change the word “Conversationalist” in the above sentence to “Chatty” and read it as “Lin is so Chatty”, the emotion changes completely. Though the word “Conversationalist” and “Chatty” denotes speaking, “Chatty” has a negative connotation, and it shows Lin as an annoying person.

Neutral Connotation

The words that express neither positive nor negative associations are referred to as NeutralConnotation. For example, consider the statement “Lee is dominant”. Here, the word “dominant” is a neutral connotation because it clearly proves Lee’s power over others without any positive or negative shade.

To be positive, the statement can be framed as “Lee is assertive”. If the statement says “Lee is bossy”, then it will be considered a negative connotation.

Connotation Examples

Listed below are the words that have the same denotations but different positive and negative connotations.

  • Strong, Sturdy, Tough, Hard
  • Young, Childish
  • Economical, Stingy
  • Storyteller, Liar
  • Confident, Arrogant
  • Aroma, Stench
  • Guest, Intruder
  • Strong-willed, Stubborn
  • Curious, Nosy
  • Coward, Timid

The Importance of Connotation

Connotation holds a high level of importance in literature because literary work is the only thing that revolves around words and thoughts together. By using the connotations you can

  • Add different dimensions to a text or a plot
  • Be descriptive while narrating
  • Pull out emotions easily
  • Set a tone when writing and speaking
  • Clarifies a person’s intention with their usage of words

When and how to use Connotation

As said earlier, the connotation is a feeling evoked by a word. It can be positive or negative too. If your statement has a positive connotation, then it may elicit positive or warm feelings. On the other hand, if a statement has a negative connotation, then it may lead to aversion. So, when it comes to writing, the selection of words is important as it plays a vital role in setting a tone and expressing the ideas in a descriptive way.

When you speak or write, at first, focus on your situation and then, depending upon your scenarios and the tone you wish to express, use relevant connotation words, either positive or negative. You can use connotation to clearly define a statement, a fact, a person’s character and object, or to describe a scene or narrate a story.


Apart from the principal meaning, the connotation builds further meaning and emotions to the words. Hence, it is not necessary to use regular words with literal meaning while speaking or writing. Instead, you can use positive, negative, or neutral connotations. Without connotation, the language would sound blunt and boring. So, implement connotations in an effective and impressive way to add essence to your thoughts, ideas, and description.