tool s for building word pow er
Think about two simple words we all know and often use: home and house.
Dictionary deﬁnitions of these words are quite similar:
house (noun): a structure serving as an abode for human beings.
home(noun): one’s own dwelling place; the house or structure in which
one lives; especially the house in which one lives with one’s family; the
habitual abode of one’s family.
But, do the two words always mean the same thing? Look at the following
sentences and consider the different uses of the word home.
Israel is the ancestral home of many of the world’s religions.
Pedro is an American citizen, but he considers Mexico his home.
The way home for the runaway is often long and lonely.
In each sentence, the word home means something different, something more
subtle and complicated than the denotative meaning of a dwelling or a structure.
In the second sentence, Pedro’s emotional attachment to Mexico is great enough
for him to think of it as home, a place of warmth, love, family, and happiness,
even though he has an actual dwelling or abode somewhere in the United States.
In general, words have connotations that are positive or negative; some-
times a connotation is neutral, but this is less likely. Most often, words derive
their connotations from the context in which they appear, or the way people
use them. It’s rare to use words only in their denotative, dictionary meaning,
and because words can carry complicated meanings, it’s important for you to
be sensitive to their possible connotations. The more connotations you know,
the stronger your word power will be.
PRACTICE 1: IDENTIFYING COMMON WORD CONNOTATIONS
Read the following sets of words, and then write each word in the appropriate
column according to the connotation, or association, it has for you and your
1. thin, plump, fat, slim
2. chatty, quiet, talkative, moody
3. snooty, friendly, vain, proud
4. shack, residence, apartment, condo