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Name: __________________________________________________
Connotation Review with The Outsiders
*Use this sheet to help you study for the benchmark.*
connotation—a cultural or emotional association we make with a word
denotation—a word’s dictionary definition
A connotation can be positive, negative, or neutral. For example, strong-willed and pig-headed have a
similar denotation, stubborn. However, strong-willed has a positive connotation (someone admirable)
and pig-headed has a negative connotation (someone frustrating to deal with).
Fill in the spectrum below with words that have a positive and negative connotation for the neutral word,
house:
Positive
Neutral
Negative
<______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________>
Home
House
Dump
__________________________
________________________
PART 1: Study the words below. Circle if the word connotes a positive, negative, or neutral
association for you.
1. tagalong
positive
neutral
negative
2. cold
positive
neutral
negative
3. tough
positive
neutral
negative
4. broad
positive
neutral
negative
5. brainy
positive
neutral
negative
6. handsome
positive
neutral
negative
7. rich
positive
neutral
negative
8. gang
positive
neutral
negative
PART 2: Now study the same words as they are used in passages from The Outsiders. Determine if
the bolded word connotes a positive, negative, or neutral association based on how they are used
in the sentences.
9. “He (Steve) didn’t like me—he thought I was a tagalong and a kid; Soda always took me with them
when they went places if they weren’t taking girls, and that bugged Steve” (9).
positive
neutral
negative
10. “His eyes were blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world” (10).
positive
neutral
negative
11. “Two-Bit nodded sagely, ‘Nice cut, too. Makes you look tough’” (12).
positive
neutral
negative
12. “ ‘Yeah, and this time it’s for good. That little broad was two-timin’ me again while I was in jail’” (14).
positive
neutral
negative
13. “Don’t let him bug you. He’s really proud of you ‘cause you’re so brainy” (17).
positive
neutral
negative
14. “Soda’s movie-star kind of handsome, the kind that people stop on the street to watch go by” (7).
positive
neutral
negative
15. “I’m not sure how you spell it, but it’s the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West-side rich
kids” (2).
positive
neutral
negative
16. “I could have gotten one of the gang to come along, one of the four boys Darry and Soda and I have
grown up with and consider family” (3).
positive
neutral
negative
PART 3: Reflect on the words you have studied today. Respond to the following questions in
complete sentences.
 How do words with multiple meanings affect what connotations we make with those words? For
example, the word cold can mean “chilly,” but it can also refer to someone who is “unfriendly.” Do
both meanings have the same connotation, or does it depend on the meaning of the word?
 How do context clues affect our meaning-making of a word, as well as our connotations with
words? Did the connotation you circled (positive, neutral, negative) change from Part 1 to Part 2?
If so, why do you think that is? How does looking at a word from another person’s perspective, in
this case Ponyboy’s, affect a word’s connotation?
 In The Outsiders, the greasers use two different spellings of “tough” to describe things: tough and
tuff. What feelings are connoted with each version? Are the versions both positive or negative?
Re-read the following passage to help you:
“Tough and tuff are two different words. Tough is the same as rough; tuff means cool,
sharp—like a tuff-looking Mustang or a tuff record. In our neighborhood both are
compliments.”
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