An additional and implicit meaning of a word, collocation, or an expression is defined as connotation. For instance, denotative meaning of a word ‘red’ is a color while its connotative meaning would represent love, passion, or anger. Let us examine some more examples of the denotative and connotative meanings of the words in order to understand them better.
- Fireplace – the place where fire burns (denotative meaning)
- Fireplace – represents coziness, warmth, and comfort (connotative meaning)
- A snake – a long thin animal with a smooth skin but no legs (denotative meaning)
- A snake – evil, danger (connotative meaning)
The connotation of the word can be both positive and negative. Even when some words have the same denotative meaning, their connotations can be different.Compare the words "slim, thin, slender, skinny, and gaunt". The denotative meaning of these words is the same, which is "a person without any extra weight". However, the connotations of these words are different, since "skinny and gaunt" has a negative connotation of being "thin in an unattractive way". On the other hand, "slim and slender" has a positive meaning of "a person who is thin in an attractive way".
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Why Is Connotation Used in Poetry?
Considering the fact that the main aim of poetry is to appeal to the reader’s emotions, connotation has become an essential tool in creating them. Many powerful lines were created by virtue of the mastery of poets to play with the meanings of the words. Here are some examples of connotation in a short sentence, where only one single word was substituted.
- The young lady looked at him.
- The young lady stared at him.
- The young lady squinted at him.
- The young lady gazed at him.
It is obvious that the denotative meaning hasn’t changed in any of those sentences. A woman took a look at a man, didn’t she? However, one word changed the way she did it, being rude, suspicious, attracted, or interested. This example proves that a connotation is a useful tool in creating imagery. Additionally, connotations make poetry richer and more powerful.
The play of connotative meanings helps to enrich the lines of a poem and make the readers eager to decipher the implicit meaning. In this case both a writer and a reader win.