Words have power, and some words have even more power! While we might lazily slap together a bland or neutral thought, it is the diction, or selective word choice, that provides a true impact!
Let me show you…
- My closest ally is a guy.
- My truest friend is a boy.
- My best friend is a man.
- My bestie is a scoundrel.
- My pal, the demigod.
- My buddy, my bitch.
- My sidekick is a warrior.
Notice the nuanced differences? Each of these statements suggests a close relationship with a male. But each of them conveys a certain tone, or attitude, about the relationship with this individual male “friend.” Notice any possible exceptions?
Denotative words are neutral, literal, and factual, like the term, “male,” directly defining a specific gender only.
Connotative words suggest a judgment or flavored meaning of the word’s denotative version, like “gentleman,” which implies a well-mannered, refined, mature male.
Offensive (connotative) diction is sometimes ironic or humorous, and sometimes just bad form, or flat out discriminatory. Calling a man a “bitch” is a derogatory term implying his weakness is like the common female dog. Furthermore, and more notorious, we tend to call aggressive women the same thing; thus, calling a man a bitch also implies that behaving like a woman is a submissive role for men.
When we are writing, we should slow down and be thoughtful about just the right words to most effectively express our meaning. Good writing requires a large vocabulary bank of options, and we should stretch ourselves with a thesaurus and practice of various words. The more words you know, the more effective your diction can be! Being a daily reader of challenging content helps build your vocabulary as well!