Geoffrey Leech | Seven types of meaning

Conceptual Meaning

  • Logical, cognitive, or denotative content
  • Conceptual meaning is the cognitive content of words; it can be expressed by features or by primitives: conceptual meaning is “deep” in that it expresses phenomena that are deeply embedded in language (Velardi, Fasolo, & Pazienza, 1991).

Associative Meanings

  • Connotative: What is communicated by virtue of what language refers to; thoughts provoked by a term when in reference to certain entities.
  • Collocative: What is communicated through association with words which tend to occur in the environment of another word; describes words that regularly appear together in common use (within certain contexts).
  • Social (Stylistic): What is communicated of the social circumstances of language use; where words are used to establish relationships between people and to delineate social roles.
  • Affective: What is communicated of the feelings and attitudes of the speaker writer; has to do with the personal feelings or attitudes of the speaker.
  • Reflected: What is communicated through association with another sense of the same expression; has to do with when one sense of a particular word affects the understanding and usage of all the other senses of the word.
  • Thematic: What is communicated by the way in which the message is organized in terms of order and emphasis; concerns itself with how the order of words spoken affects the meaning that is entailed.

Wikipedia | Associative meaning

Paola Velardi, Michela Fasolo, and Maria Teresa Pazienza. 1991. How to encode semantic knowledge: a method for meaning representation and computer-aided acquisition. Comput. Linguist. 17, 2 (June 1991), 153-170.


Leech, G. 1981. Semantics: the study of meaning. 2nd edition. Penguin, Harmondsworth, UK.

Quizlet | Seven Types of Meaning 2