What is the difference between denotation and connotation in the words "dull," "inspire," and "life"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Denotation is the dictionary definition.  It is a non-emotional, literal definition of the word.  Connotation, on the other hand, is the emotional meaning of the word.  For example, many people consider “skinny” to have a negative connotation and “thin” to have a positive one, even though they have similar denotations.

“Dull” has a negative connotation.  Rather than the opposite of bright, emotionally it brings up negative ideas.  “Inspire,” on the other hand, has a positive connotation.  We like people who inspire others!  Life, on the other hand, does not really have strong emotional connotations of different emotional meanings.