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Connotation vs. Denotation

Synonyms can be tricky. Sometimes words have the same literal meaning (the word’s denotation) but suggest different feelings and associations (the word’s connotation). For example, if you want to compliment someone on his recent weight loss, you might say he looks thin or slender. Both thin and slender have positive connotations. You wouldn’t, however, use the word scrawny as a compliment. The word scrawny has a negative connotation and implies a lack of strength. Try the practice exercises below to test your knowledge of connotative and denotative meanings.


Practice Exercise 1

Choose the word or term with the most positive connotation.


Practice Exercise 2

Choose all of the terms that have a negative connotation.