Distinguishing Shades of Meaning: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Donald Nicolas
How can you tell the difference between the words 'mad' and 'upset'? Both show emotion, but one is stronger than the other. Shades of meaning distinguish, or tell the difference between similar words. Read on to find out a shade more about meaning!

Distinguishing Shades of Meaning

Think of your favorite color. Is it blue? Red? Green? Whatever it is, that color has multiple different shades. For instance, the color blue could be broken down into sky blue, midnight blue, or ocean blue, just to name a few. Just like colors, words have different shades, too. These are called shades of meaning.

This color palette shows different shades of colors. Words like colors can have different shades of meaning.
palette

Shades of meaning can describe what we are feeling or thinking. They help us to see which word shows a stronger meaning.

Shades of Meaning: Feeling

Let's look at the word mad. Mad is an emotion. It describes how someone is feeling. You've probably felt mad on occasion yourself, right? Remember how that emotion feels as we think of some shades of meaning to the word 'mad'.

What word is stronger? Mad? Or angry?

Angry is a shade stronger than mad.

What are some stronger words to show the same emotion?

Upset is stronger than angry. And furious is stronger than upset.

So here is our order:

Mad - Angry - Upset - Furious

These shades of meaning help us to determine what words are the best to use in our writing.

If you lost your absolutely most-favorite toy, you may you want to say that you were furious instead of using the word mad. It makes your point stronger!

Another example is the word happy. There are many different shades, or ways to define, or tell what happy means. How would you feel if your class was going on a special field trip? Would you feel just happy or would you feel excited?

This little girl may be excited about a special field trip.
girl

Different shades of meaning for the word happy can be overjoyed and thrilled.

So here is our order:

Happy - Excited - Overjoyed - Thrilled

Shades of Meaning: Thinking

Look at this sentence.

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