What is Connotation?

Connotation is the association you automatically make with a word, including how the word makes you feel.

I can see the light! You’re such a dog! It’s finally spring- time for a new beginning.

These sentences each contain connotation, which is the association you automatically make with a word, including how the word makes you feel. When you read or hear a certain word, you might have an emotional response that comes with it that isn’t directly related to its dictionary definition (a word’s literal meaning is its denotation). For example, you might associate light with hope and happiness, while its true definition is just to make something visible. Or, spring might make you think of cute new baby animals and a fresh start while it is really just one of the four seasons following its course. See the pattern? There are general connotations used in poetry when the emotional meaning of a word is implied, but it is also possible for every person to make different associations from another person when it comes to certain words. Like, if you got food poisoning from that gas station sushi, you might have a strong emotional response to the word “sushi” and its connotation would be negative for you while another person might associate it with happiness if it is their favorite food. Connotation is used to give deeper meanings to words and phrases without actually having to add additional words since the feelings are implied.

*in voice of psychiatrist* So, how do these poems make you feel?



I have experienc'd
The worst, the World can wreak on me--the worst
That can make Life indifferent, yet disturb
With whisper'd Discontents the dying prayer--
I have beheld the whole of all, wherein
My Heart had any interest in this Life,
To be disrent and torn from off my Hopes
That nothing now is left. Why then live on ?
That Hostage, which the world had in it's keeping
Given by me as a Pledge that I would live--
That Hope of Her, say rather, that pure Faith
In her fix'd Love, which held me to keep truce
With the Tyranny of Life--is gone ah ! whither ?
What boots it to reply ? 'tis gone ! and now
Well may I break this Pact, this League of Blood
That ties me to myself--and break I shall !



He can say it was a painting

He can say we were the painting

Or that the painting wasn’t painting

And that we only happen to ourselves


We can say we kept things running

by distracting ourselves

from the hideous truth

of  how things run


That we were broken

That we lingered near a broken factory

That we had broken


We can say that the disappointment

of slicing into a leek

and not finding the requisite layers

but a thick white inedible core

is not the disappointment

of approaching a sleeping animal

only to learn that it is dead

but it does nudge one slightly

further into despair


We said despair

We meant the strings of impossible

instruments that they made

in the factory

That we had seen

That were broken

That there were different paintings

That could be played as songs


We had seen other things

That we had seen

That had come unstrung

and blown between adjacent bridges

whose river had presented us a city

That was broken

That we had been

That we were broken

That was our city

This was our city

that was a song replaying itself in the dark

Poetry Term: 

Otteri Selvakumar

Enjoy everything