Connotative Words – 99 Examples & Definitions


As a writer, understanding the subtle art of word choice transforms your work from ordinary to extraordinary.

This ability helps separate the amateur writers from those truly dedicated to their craft.

If the basis of good writing is being able to convey an idea clearly, the more advanced approach is to do so while also influencing your reader’s emotions.

To reach that level, you need to take the time to learn the art of connotation.

Dive into the world of connotative words with us, and unlock the secret to captivating your readers like never before.

What are connotative words?

an illustration of a writer contemplating how to use connotative words sitting by the sea

Connotative words are a type of word that aims to convey more than just its literal meaning, but also a mood, emotion, or tone.

To understand fully, contrast connotative words with their opposite, denotative words.

While denotative words serve as the backbone of language, providing clear, direct meanings, connotative words add nuance and depth.

Denotation tells us what something is while connotation tells us what it feels like.

For instance, “house” and “home” denote a place to live, but “home” conveys warmth, safety, and belonging, thanks to its connotations.

The emotional weight of connotative words influences how your reader responds to your writing.

These words carry layers of meaning that evoke specific feelings, setting tone and atmosphere.

By choosing words with the right connotations, you can guide your readers’ emotional responses and deepen their connection to your work.

How are connotative words used?

Understanding and utilizing connotative words is a powerful technique to add to your writing skillset.

They are the tools that allow you to convey not just information, but also emotion and attitude.

Whether you aim to inspire, persuade, or move your readers, connotative words give your language life. They make your characters more relatable, your settings more vivid, and your narratives more compelling.

By carefully selecting words for their connotative value, you align your writing with the desired emotional tone and thematic nuances.

This skill is what elevates good writing to great writing, engaging your readers on a deeper, more intuitive level.

Positive connotative words

Embracing positive connotative words enriches your writing, infusing it with optimism and warmth.

These words have the power to uplift and inspire, creating a positive atmosphere that draws readers in.

Examples of positive connotative words

Here is a list of 33 positive connotative words, each with a definition of what it connotes and an example sentence to illustrate its use.

1. Ambitious

illustrated mountain climber showing ambition on a climb

Connotes: A strong desire to succeed or achieve something significant.

Example: Her ambitious spirit led her to climb the highest mountains.

2. Brave

Connotes: Exhibiting courage and facing challenges head-on.

Example: The brave firefighter saved the family from the burning building.

3. Compassionate

Connotes: Showing sympathy and concern for others.

Example: His compassionate approach helped the community heal.

4. Dazzling

Connotes: Extremely impressive, beautiful, or skillful.

Example: The dazzling display of fireworks lit up the night sky.

5. Empowering

Connotes: Giving someone the confidence or strength to do something.

Example: The empowering speech motivated everyone to pursue their dreams.

6. Flourishing

Connotes: Growing or developing in a healthy or vigorous way.

Example: The flourishing garden was a result of her green thumb.

7. Generous

Connotes: Showing a readiness to give more of something than is strictly necessary or expected.

Example: His generous donation made the charity event a success.

8. Hopeful

Connotes: Feeling or inspiring optimism about a future event.

Example: She remained hopeful despite the challenges she faced.

9. Innovative

Connotes: Featuring new methods; advanced and original.

Example: Their innovative solution won the technology competition.

10. Joyful

Connotes: Feeling, expressing, or causing great pleasure and happiness.

Example: The joyful laughter of children filled the air.

11. Kindhearted

a kindhearted nurse standing in an illustrated hospital location

Connotes: Having a kind and sympathetic nature.

Example: The kindhearted nurse went above and beyond for her patients.

12. Luminous

Connotes: Full of or shedding light; bright or shining.

Example: The luminous moon guided their way through the night.

13. Motivated

Connotes: Having a strong reason to act or accomplish something.

Example: She was highly motivated to improve her skills.

14. Nurturing

Connotes: Caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.

Example: His nurturing approach helped the young athletes thrive.

15. Optimistic

Connotes: Hopeful and confident about the future.

Example: Despite the setbacks, he remained optimistic about his recovery.

16. Passionate

Connotes: Showing or caused by strong feelings or a strong belief.

Example: She is passionate about environmental conservation.

17. Quintessential

Connotes: Representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.

Example: He is the quintessential gentleman.

18. Resilient

Connotes: Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

Example: Her resilient nature helped her overcome every obstacle.

19. Serene

Connotes: Calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

Example: The serene landscape was a perfect backdrop for meditation.

20. Thriving

illustration of a female entrepreneur cutting the ribbon on a thriving business which is expanding

Connotes: Prospering; being successful or flourishing.

Example: The thriving business expanded to new markets.

21. Unwavering

Connotes: Steady or resolute; not wavering.

Example: Her unwavering support was crucial during tough times.

22. Vibrant

Connotes: Full of energy and enthusiasm.

Example: The vibrant festival celebrated the town’s rich culture.

23. Warmhearted

Connotes: Kind, friendly, and sympathetic.

Example: The warmhearted teacher made every student feel valued.

24. Exuberant

Connotes: Filled with or characterized by a lively energy and excitement.

Example: The crowd’s exuberant cheers filled the stadium.

25. Youthful

Connotes: Remaining young at heart.

Example: His youthful enthusiasm was infectious.

26. Zealous

Connotes: Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.

Example: The zealous volunteers worked tirelessly to clean up the beach.

27. Affable

Connotes: Friendly, good-natured, or easy to talk to.

Example: Her affable nature made her well-liked by her peers.

28. Bountiful

Connotes: Large in quantity; abundant.

Example: The bountiful harvest ensured there was enough to feed everyone.

29. Charismatic

Connotes: Exercising a compelling charm that inspires devotion in others.

Example: The charismatic leader drew a huge following.

30. Delightful

Connotes: Causing delight; charming.

Example: The delightful melody brought joy to all who heard it.

31. Eloquent

Connotes: Fluent or persuasive in speaking or writing.

Example: Her eloquent speech moved the audience to tears.

32. Faithful

Connotes: Loyal, devoted, or trustworthy.

Example: He remained faithful to his team through all their ups and downs.

33. Gracious

Connotes: Courteous, kind, and pleasant.

Example: The gracious host made sure everyone felt welcome.

By using these positive connotative words in your writing, you not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your text but also evoke feelings of joy, hope, and inspiration in your readers.

These words are a subtle yet powerful way to connect on an emotional level, making your writing memorable and impactful.

Neutral connotative words

Neutral connotative words serve as the foundation of balanced and realistic writing.

They provide clarity without imposing strong emotional biases, allowing your readers to draw their own conclusions.

Examples of neutral connotative words

This section offers a collection of 33 neutral connotative words, complete with definitions and illustrative sentences.

1. Antique

illustration of a large antique vase on display in a museum

Connotes: Belonging to an earlier period, old-fashioned.

Example: The antique vase was a centerpiece of the museum’s collection.

2. Brisk

Connotes: Active, fast, and energetic.

Example: The brisk walk in the morning invigorated her.

3. Candid

Connotes: Frank, open, honest in speech.

Example: His candid remarks sparked a lively debate.

4. Durable

Connotes: Able to withstand wear, pressure, or damage.

Example: The durable materials ensured the backpack lasted for years.

5. Eclectic

Connotes: Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Example: Her eclectic taste in music surprised all her friends.

6. Formal

Connotes: Following rules or customs, often in an exact and proper way.

Example: The formal dinner required black-tie attire.

7. Generic

Connotes: Characteristic of or relating to a class or group of things; not specific.

Example: The generic brand proved just as effective as the name brand.

8. Hybrid

Connotes: A thing made by combining two different elements.

Example: The hybrid car was both fuel-efficient and powerful.

9. Implicit

Connotes: Implied though not plainly expressed.

Example: The implicit agreement between them needed no words.

10. Juxtaposed

an illustrated art gallery with juxtaposed modern and classic art

Connotes: To place or deal with close together for contrasting effect.

Example: The exhibition juxtaposed modern art with classical pieces.

11. Kinetic

Connotes: Relating to or resulting from motion.

Example: The kinetic sculpture moved mesmerizingly in the wind.

12. Literal

Connotes: Taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or exaggeration.

Example: He insisted on a literal interpretation of the text.

13. Methodical

Connotes: Done according to a systematic or established form of procedure.

Example: Her methodical approach to research was commendable.

14. Neutral

Connotes: Not supporting or helping either side in a conflict, disagreement, etc.

Example: The mediator remained neutral throughout the discussions.

15. Objective

Connotes: Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Example: His objective analysis provided much-needed clarity.

16. Pragmatic

Connotes: Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Example: Her pragmatic approach to problem-solving was highly effective.

17. Quintessential

Connotes: Representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class, often in a purely factual manner.

Example: The museum was the quintessential representation of the city’s culture.

18. Resolute

Connotes: Admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering, in a way that is neither positive nor negative.

Example: He was resolute in his decision to complete the project on time.

19. Sparse

Connotes: Thinly dispersed or scattered.

Example: The sparse population of the area made it peaceful.

20. Technical

retro illustration of someone repairing a complex machine with the help of a technical manual

Connotes: Relating to a specific subject, art, or craft, or its techniques.

Example: The technical manual was essential for the equipment’s repair.

21. Uniform

Connotes: Remaining the same in all cases and at all times; unchanging in form or character.

Example: The uniform design simplified the company’s branding.

22. Validate

Connotes: Check or prove the validity or accuracy of (something).

Example: The experiments helped to validate the theory.

23. Wholesome

Connotes: Suggestive of good health and physical well-being.

Example: The wholesome meal was both nutritious and delicious.

24. Xenial

Connotes: Friendly relation between hosts and guests.

Example: The xenial atmosphere made the foreign delegates feel at home.

25. Yield

Connotes: Produce or provide (a natural, agricultural, or industrial product).

Example: The fertile land yielded an abundant harvest.

26. Zeal

Connotes: Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective.

Example: His zeal for the project was contagious.

27. Analytical

Connotes: Relating to or using analysis or logical reasoning.

Example: Her analytical skills were crucial to solving the puzzle.

28. Benchmark

Connotes: A standard or point of reference against which things may be compared.

Example: The test scores were a benchmark for the school’s performance.

29. Comprehensive

Connotes: Complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.

Example: The comprehensive guide covered every aspect of the software.

30. Debatable

Connotes: Open to discussion or argument.

Example: The benefits of the new policy were debatable.

31. Efficient

Connotes: Achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

Example: The efficient process saved the company time and money.

32. Fragmented

Connotes: Broken or separated into distinct parts.

Example: The fragmented artifact was painstakingly reassembled by the archaeologists.

33. Groundbreaking

Connotes: Innovatively introducing new ideas, methods, or devices.

Example: The groundbreaking research opened new avenues in science.

By weaving these neutral connotative words into your work, you grant your readers the space to engage with your writing on their own terms.

This approach causes a connection built on respect for your readers’ intellect and perspective, enhancing your work by offering depth without directive.

Negative connotative words

Using negative connotative words judiciously can add depth and realism to your writing, portraying conflict and adversity in a way that resonates with readers.

Examples of negative connotative words

Here, we explore 33 negative connotative words, each elucidated with a definition of its connotations, accompanied by an example sentence.

1. Abrasive

cartoon style illustration of an angry business exec shouting abrasive comments during a meeting

Connotes: Harshness or roughness in manner.

Example: His abrasive comments during the meeting were off-putting.

2. Bleak

Connotes: Lacking in warmth, life, or kindliness.

Example: The novel depicted a bleak future devoid of hope.

3. Clumsy

Connotes: Lacking grace or skill in movement or execution.

Example: The clumsy attempt to fix the problem only made things worse.

4. Dismal

Connotes: Depressingly dreary or gloomy.

Example: The dismal weather mirrored her mood that day.

5. Evasive

Connotes: Tending to avoid commitment or self-revelation.

Example: His evasive answers raised more questions than they answered.

6. Frivolous

Connotes: Not having any serious purpose or value.

Example: The frivolous lawsuit was quickly dismissed by the judge.

7. Gruesome

Connotes: Causing repulsion or horror; grisly.

Example: The crime scene was too gruesome to describe.

8. Harsh

Connotes: Unpleasantly rough or jarring to the senses.

Example: The harsh criticism left her feeling demoralized.

9. Ignorant

Connotes: Lacking knowledge or awareness in general.

Example: His ignorant comments revealed his lack of understanding.

10. Jaded

Connotes: Tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm.

Example: The jaded audience hardly applauded at the end of the performance.

11. Knotty

Connotes: Complicated and difficult to solve.

Example: The negotiations reached a knotty phase with no easy resolution.

12. Lethargic

cute illustration of a lethargic cat resting on a sofa in a room with plants

Connotes: Affected by lethargy; sluggish and apathetic.

Example: The lethargic cat barely moved from the sofa all day.

13. Malicious

Connotes: Intending or intended to do harm.

Example: The malicious rumor was intended to tarnish her reputation.

14. Nefarious

Connotes: Wicked, villainous, or criminal.

Example: His motives were as nefarious as his actions.

15. Obnoxious

Connotes: Extremely unpleasant.

Example: The obnoxious odor made it impossible to stay in the room.

16. Pernicious

Connotes: Having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.

Example: The pernicious weed spread throughout the farmland.

17. Querulous

Connotes: Complaining in a petulant or whining manner.

Example: The querulous tone of his voice grated on everyone’s nerves.

18. Repugnant

Connotes: Extremely distasteful; unacceptable.

Example: The very idea of cheating was repugnant to her.

19. Sinister

Connotes: Giving the impression that something harmful or evil is happening or will happen.

Example: There was something sinister about the deserted house.

20. Toxic

Connotes: Poisonous; very harmful or unpleasant in a pervasive or insidious way.

Example: The toxic work environment led many employees to leave.

21. Unsettling

Connotes: Causing anxiety or uneasiness; disturbing.

Example: The unsettling news left the community in shock.

22. Vile

illustration of the vile treatment of prisoners in a dark and dingy cell

Connotes: Extremely unpleasant or morally bad.

Example: The vile treatment of prisoners was condemned worldwide.

23. Warped

Connotes: Twisted or distorted out of shape.

Example: His warped sense of humor was not appreciated by all.

24. Xenophobic

Connotes: Showing a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.

Example: The xenophobic policies were criticized internationally.

25. Yielding

Connotes: Giving way under pressure; not firm or strong.

Example: The yielding structure raised concerns about safety.

26. Zealous

Connotes: Showing zeal; overly enthusiastic in a way that can be negative.

Example: His zealous enforcement of the rules sometimes seemed excessive.

27. Accusatory

Connotes: Suggesting that one believes a person has done something wrong.

Example: The accusatory tone made her feel like she was already guilty.

28. Belligerent

Connotes: Hostile and aggressive.

Example: The belligerent drunk was escorted out of the bar.

29. Coercive

Connotes: Relating to or using force or threats.

Example: The coercive measures were criticized as being too harsh.

30. Deceptive

Connotes: Giving an appearance or impression different from the true one; misleading.

Example: The deceptive advertising misled consumers about the product’s benefits.

31. Expendable

Connotes: Of little significance when compared to an overall purpose, and therefore able to be abandoned.

Example: The cruel reality was that soldiers were often seen as expendable.

32. Flippant

Connotes: Not showing a serious or respectful attitude.

Example: His flippant remarks about the situation angered many.

33. Glib

Connotes: Fluent and voluble but insincere and shallow.

Example: The politician’s glib answers did not satisfy the public.

Incorporating negative connotative words into your writing, when done thoughtfully, adds a level of edge and realism.

They allow you to explore the full spectrum of human experience without shying away from the darkest moments.

Use them wisely to enrich your writing with depth and complexity.

Are you ready to enhance your writing with connotative words?

We invite you to experiment with these connotative words, to weave them into your stories and articles, and observe the profound impact they have on your readers.

Please continue to develop your appreciation and mastery of connotative words – treat this guide as a starting point to inspire both your reading and writing.

Your unique voice and perspective, enriched with the right words, has the power to impact, inspire, and move your readers.

Don’t let that power go to waste!


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