We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Positive Connotation?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Positive connotation is the idea of a word having an associated or felt meaning that is positive in some way without it necessarily reflecting the literal meaning of the word. The word “jolly” for example, has a very simple meaning — “happy” — so its literal meaning is often considered positive and it tends to have a connotation that is naturally positive as well. Another word can have a positive connotation, even if the word itself is not necessarily meant to be inherently positive. The word “plenty” has a literal meaning of “a good deal of something,” but is often associated with having sufficient wealth or food for comfort, giving it a positive association or connotation.

The term “positive connotation” refers to the kind of emotional or subconscious reaction someone has to a word. Different words can have different connotations and denotations, depending on the word and how it is used in a particular culture. The denotation of a word is its literal meaning, often simply described as the dictionary definition of a word, and is positive or negative only due to its strictest meaning. A word like “eloquent” has a clear denotation — a person who is capable of clear expression — but it can also have a positive connotation as well, that of someone whose speech indicates intelligence.

A connotation of any kind, either a positive or negative connotation, typically stems from how a word is used in a particular society. The word “butcher,” for example, simply means someone who separates meat into different cuts for sale or distribution. Usage of the word in association with various acts of manslaughter or crime, however, has given the word a negative connotation that implies it can be someone who savagely attacks another person. A particular word can take on a positive connotation in much the same way, and the word is then typically used to have that secondary meaning as well.

This concept can extend beyond one word, and can be used to describe an entire phrase or common saying. The term “sunny day,” for example, literally only refers to the fact that the sun is not obscured by clouds in the sky. It is often used with a positive connotation to imply that such a day is full of potential for fun or happiness, and the image of a sunny day has become equally associated with opportunities for enjoyment. Once a word takes on a positive connotation, it may, in fact, lose previous meanings and the denotation may change to match the connotation.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By shell4life — On Jul 25, 2012

I think we all have certain words that mean something positive to us. One person's favorite positive connotation could mean nothing to someone else, but another word entirely could mean the best to them.

My favorite positive word is “paradise.” I absolutely love the ocean, the beach, palm trees, and everything to do with the sea. Paradise and the ocean are often linked, and for me, this connotation is the most positive.

However, my best friend loves the mountains more than anything. She cares nothing for the ocean, but to her, the word “mountainous” equals paradise. So, when she hears words referring to mountains, they have a positive connotation for her, though they do nothing for me.

By OeKc05 — On Jul 25, 2012

I see both positive and negative connotations put to use in advertising all the time. Advertisers like to use words that come with clear feelings to get their point across.

Many wedding related ads use the word “bliss.” I have seen this positive word used in ads for jewelry stores selling engagement rings and also in travel ads to entice newlyweds to go to a certain honeymoon destination.

Negative words usually are used in ads campaigning against something. They either encourage people to stop some unhealthy activity or to join an organization that fights against the word with the negative connotation.

By Oceana — On Jul 25, 2012

@kylee07drg – I know people like your coworker, as well. I think that everyone does this to some degree, but like you say, it isn't good to do it all the time.

I have a friend who just uses one positive connotation word to mean something else. I always know that when she says someone is “healthy,” she means that they are overweight.

She uses the term “healthy” in reference to the fact that they obviously don't have malnutrition and they have plenty of fat stored up to survive on in case of famine. However, many overweight people are not actually healthy, since they are at greater risk for diabetes and heart problems, so she knows she is also being sarcastic.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 24, 2012

I know a few bitter people who tend to use words with positive connotations ironically. My coworker has a negative outlook on life, and every time that she wants to express her discontent over something, she says, “Well, isn't that lovely!”

I've also heard her refer to less than desirable circumstances as “just great.” We all can tell from the tone of her voice and her general demeanor that she isn't speaking literally at all.

I've caught myself doing this from time to time. I keep a check on it, though, because I don't want to become the person who always uses positive words to say the opposite of what I mean. People often tend to avoid those with super negative ways of viewing and referring to situations.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.