Understanding Positive and Negative Connotative Words With Examples

The terms 'connotation' and 'denotation' refer to ways of describing the meaning of words. While the former refers to the positive or negative association that the words carry, the latter is the literal definition or the dictionary meaning of the word. Penlighten will help you understand the positive and negative connotation of words.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: May 12, 2018
"Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more."
― Confucius
Kind, gentle words can leave an indelible mark on one's mind, while harsh, cruel words can break deep bonds, turning a friend into a foe. So, how does one place words into the category of kind or harsh words? Well, in order to differentiate between the two, one needs to be aware of their connotation. The term 'connotation' refers to the emotional implication or association of the word. It is essential to comprehend not only what a word means, but also what a word suggests. Words can have a positive or negative connotation. Using words with a positive connotation can certainly have a beneficial effect on one's relationships. The connotative meaning of the word is based on the emotional association with the word. Some words could even be neutral. They might be bereft of any positive or negative connotation. However, one needs to be mindful about the context in which it is used. Though the denotation of two synonyms might be the same, their connotations can be positive or negative. So, being aware of the dictionary meaning of a word does not suffice. There's a huge scope for misinterpretation, if one unknowingly uses a word with a negative connotation.
Positive Connotation Vs. Negative Connotation
Basically, the power or the effect a word can have on people can be linked to the connotation or the emotional association that is ascribed to a word. Euphemism is the use of milder words in place of words that might be considered harsh, rude, or offensive. It is a way of conveying the meaning with gentler words, so as to avoid being rude. If you wish to inform your friend about an irritating habit of his or hers, you can use the words that have a favorable or positive connotation.

Neutral Connotation Positive Connotation Negative Connotation
Smell Fragrance Stench
Store Save Hoard
Persistent Persevering Stubborn
Inactive Laid-back Lazy
Thin Slender Skinny
Young Youthful Childish
Economical
Thrifty
Miserly
Unusual Exceptional Strange
Inexpensive Economical Cheap
Connotations
Positive Negative
Aroma Stench
Timid Cowardly
Assertive Pushy
Bold Brash
Strong-willed/Determined Stubborn
Curious Nosy
Thrifty Stingy
Thin Scrawny
Plump Fat
Frugal Cheap
Slender Skinny
Debate Argument
Youthful Immature
Relaxed Lazy
Focused Obsessed
Smile Smirk
Weird Bizarre
Energetic Hyperactive
Examples of Positive and Negative Connotation
While the dictionary meaning or the denotation of a word will remain the same, the connotation can vary.

The sandwich is moist.

The sandwich is soggy.

She is very assertive.

She is pushy.

This dress is expensive, but It is definitely worth the price.

This dress is overpriced.

The fragrance of roses has filled the garden.

Get rids of those eggs; the stench is overwhelming.

Please turn off the stereo; I can't study with all that noise.

Please turn off the radio; I can't concentrate with the intense music playing.

The coffee is too bitter.

The coffee is too strong for my liking.

She always comes up with innovative ideas that work.

She's always comes with crazy ideas.

I don't wish to spend time with her; she is extremely nosy.

She is very curious, and wants to learn new things.

Her assistant seems to be quite clever.

Her assistant seems to be crafty.

She is thrifty.

She is stingy.

The music is intense.

The music is deafening.

On a concluding note, one must have a basic understanding about the connotation of words. If you look into a thesaurus, you will come across various synonyms for a word. Though the denotation of these words might be somewhat similar, their connotation could be neutral, positive, or negative. Those who unconsciously use words with a negative connotation are most likely to get caught up in difficult situations. So, make sure that you pay close attention to your choice of words. History has ample evidence of battles being waged due to lack of control over one's tongue; such is the power of words.