What is connotation? Recently I was giving a presentation, and I talked about a word’s connotation. “Traditionally, for many, doubt has a negative connotation.” Someone interrupted me mid-sentence, in front of everyone, “uh, I think you mean denotation.” Um, excuse me, but I am a lawyer, and I was an English major before that, and an avid reader and word lover/enthusiast always, and I believe I know the difference between connotation and denotation better than you do, thank you very much. Also, even if you were right (which you’re not), it’s extremely rude to interrupt someone and try to make them look stupid in front of a group. And it’s especially obnoxious if you’re also wrong. But then, of course, I went straight home and looked up both denotation and connotation in the dictionary, and this is what I discovered: Continue reading
What is connotation? Everyone probably has a pretty good working understanding, but let’s look a little bit deeper, just for fun.
The New Oxford American Dictionary (“NOAD”) defines “connotation” as a noun, meaning “an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal meaning.” Continue reading
It’s that time of year again. No fun! But let’s make it fun with a quick and useful grammar/vocabulary lesson.
What is “nausea”? The root “nausea” is a noun, meaning:
- A feeling of physical unwellness, usually with the desire to vomit.
- Strong dislike or disgust.
- Sea-sickness. Continue reading
If I coin the phrase “compulsive sentence completer,” will you know what I am talking about?
I used to work with one of these. She meant well, but conversations with her would always go something like this: Continue reading
In 1968, Andy Warhol said “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Is the future now? Do you think that’s true? What do you think he was talking about?
We have YouTube, “reality” TV, Facebook, anyone (obviously) can start their own blog or website. And if you live in a trailer park in the deep South and a tornado blows through, they will put you on prime-time television, no matter how backwards or illiterate you are. If you are inarticulate enough, they may even give you your own syndicated show (see “Swamp People”). Is that fame? How would you define fame? Maybe we need another word for “famous.” Continue reading
For some reason, my alarm clock is set to this religious station. Every morning I am awakened by a booming, enthusiastic sermon about one topic or another. Despite the subject matter, I always find the voice comforting. But this morning was a doozy.
The preacher/pastor/rabbi whatever he is was talking about infidelity, and he walked through an interesting progression. He started out by saying that many people have beautiful bodies, different shapes, different curves, different attributes, and that finding these attributes attractive is not a sin. Appreciating them is not a sin. Offering an awed, almost involuntary compliment in manifestation of this appreciation is not a sin. Thinking about these attributes is not a sin. Even dreaming about these attributes is not a sin. But it is close. Continue reading
What is the past tense of “sneak”? If you’re like me, your initial reaction is “snuck,” right? But I make a lot of these decisions quickly, and based on my inner ear. What sounds right? What sounds familiar? I grew up mostly in America, mostly among native English speakers, and mostly among American English speakers. History was not my best subject, but I know we didn’t invent the language. It’s not called “American,” after all (though I know some that would probably argue for a change there). Continue reading
I am trying to come up with a casual way to use the word “associated” in a sentence. So far, no luck. Everything I try ends up coming out stuffy.
But word associations are fun to poke away at, so I’ll keep going.
It reminds me of the word “alliteration.” When I was an English major, this term (alliteration- the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words) seemed to come up pretty regularly. And it is a nice sounding word, and it has relevance in the very specific context of writing, particularly poetry, but there is simply no way to use it casually in a sentence (though I have seen several English majors try): “Hey man, could you slide me some salt. Yo, check out that super smooth use of alliteration there: slide some salt. Awesome!” Yeah, it doesn’t work. Continue reading