Semantics

Proper and figurative meaning of words with examples

Proper and figurative meaning

The proper meaning and the figurative meaning of language are related to the denotative and connotative function of language, that is, with the capacity that words have to present a plurality of meanings, from a more objective and literal one, to a subjective and symbolic one.

Proper meaning

The proper meaning of words is also called the literal meaning or the denotative meaning.

It presents the following characteristics:

  • Conveys the original meaning of the word, usually associated with the first meaning that appears in the dictionary definition;
  • It conveys the most common sense of the word, being that which is immediately recognizable;
  • Conveys the most objective meaning of the word, regardless of the sentence context in which it occurs;
  • The main function of the message is to convey clear and objective information.

Examples with proper meaning of words

  • My grandmother makes delicious savory bread .
  • I won the game with the ace of hearts.
  • I don’t know if I believe in angels …

Figurative meaning

The figurative meaning of words is also called the connotative meaning.

It presents the following characteristics:

  • It arises in particular situations of language use, depending on the sentence context in which it occurs;
  • It transmits a subjective meaning of the word, subject to the interpretation of the interlocutors;
  • It presents a symbolic meaning of the word, influenced by associations and ideas that expand the original meaning of a word;
  • The main function of the message is to be expressive to provoke feelings in the interlocutors.

Examples with figurative meaning of words

  • My grandfather was a bun when he was young.
  • I’ve always been an ace at math.
  • My grandchildren are angels .

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