Defining the word “Power”

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Defining terms is a really important part of forming a solid argument.

In fact, arguments often come down to a difference of terms; disparate ways of defining the same concept.

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When arguments come to this, it’s often because we don’t acknowledge or explore the difference between the denotation and connotation.

Denotation is how we name and define things. When you look up a word in the dictionary, you find its denotation. It’s the word’s literal meaning, its designation.

Connotation is the implied meaning of a word or concept. It might not be found in the dictionary (or perhaps is touched upon,) but it has cultural and historical meaning beyond what you would find in the denotation.

In simpler terms, denotation is the explicit, literal meaning of a word, and connotation is its implied significance.

To illustrate, consider the word “noose.”

If you look up this word in the dictionary, you will find this:

“A loop with a slipknot that binds closer the more it is drawn.”

But in our culture, a noose has way more significance than just that. The noose, in fact, is a symbol that extends from our legacy of slavery. It is a symbol of lynching, of mob mentality, racism, white supremacist mentality, and, essentially, centuries of violence and oppression enacted by white people against African-Americans.

Now try your hand:

Post YOUR OWN definition of the word power.

Your definition needs to be 350-450 words.

Your definition could include what you’ve been taught about the concept of “power”, a narrative of your firsthand experiences, description of the world in which you were brought up, any understanding of the broader implications of power, and what you believe to be true about all of this.

*note that the instructions here are pretty general. This is by design; I want you to decide what direction to take this definition.

Under no circumstances should you quote the dictionary or wikipedia.

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