Denotative and connotative words with examples

Denotative words

First of all, in order to understand the meaning of denoting and connotative words, we must define them: we are going to start with denoting words. These types of words are those that express an idea in the most precise and direct way possible. That is, these words are those that show the most accurate meaning of a word, without double meanings to expressly indicate the concept that the speaker wants to express. The words respond to their meaning and have no other than the one that has to do with the real concept. Denotative and connotative words with examples

Examples of denotative words

In order to better understand what denoting words are, we are going to see a series of examples in sentences :

  • Manuel works in a bank.
  • She is on the beach.
  • The boy eats macaroni.
  • The boats leave the port at 10 in the morning.
  • His father is a tennis player.
  • They like to go out to the country on Sunday afternoons.
  • Alba wears high heels when she goes to work.
  • The dog is big.
  • Our house is on Calle Mayor.
  • The roses have dried up.

As you can see, all these sentences do not have a double meaning, they express what they express and the words are what they want to show. Its meaning is literal, therefore denotative words are the easiest to identify.

Connotative words

Connotative words, on the other hand, are those that have a literal or denotative meaning, but which in turn, acquire a metaphorical meaning. In other words, some words in Spanish can reach, in addition to their meaning, another that has a comparative or figurative meaning whose objective is to represent an idea or concept.

Words are not always what they literally mean and the example of this is their connotation. The same word can acquire a meaning that expresses an abstract concept or idea that has nothing to do with the denotative meaning of the word itself. Denotative and connotative words with examples

In Spanish these words are very frequent and in most cases, they are used to express virtues, vices, or physical characteristics of a person, animal, or thing. When we use these types of words it is because we want to highlight them over the rest of the characteristics.

As they are metaphorical or figurative meanings, connotative words, in most cases, cannot be separated from their cultural context. That is, many expressions or words only acquire certain meanings in certain places or in communities with a different culture.

This type of denoting words is very frequent in sayings and phrases with double meanings. In them, an idea is expressed directly, but there is always another that is veiled and that must be captured. On many occasions, it is possible not to realize this double meaning used.

Examples of connotative words

As you can see, connotative words are a bit more difficult to understand, especially if you do not understand their cultural context. Despite this, we are going to see a series of examples that will help you understand this figurative and metaphorical sense of them:

  • Their teeth are pearls: in this specific case, it does not mean that the person has lost their teeth and instead has placed pearls. As the word pearl has a connotative meaning, in this case, the real meaning of the sentence is that the person we are referring to has very white and shiny teeth.

This example is very simple to understand what connotative words are, but we are going to see other sentences that will help you better fix your knowledge about them:

  • Angel goes crazy when he walks into a shoe store.
  • When his girlfriend left him, his heart was broken into a thousand pieces.
  • It has a heart of gold. Denotative and connotative words with examples
  • It was so cold in that room that Carla got goosebumps.
  • He spent hours staring at her peach face.
  • He brushed against him for a second with his icy hand.
  • Her penetrating gaze left him petrified in that dark street.
  • He has said that he hates him with the heat of a thousand suns.
  • His brothers get along like cat and dog.
  • His wife is a being of light.
  • Cristina and Alba are like two drops of water.

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