- emotional, emotiveEmotional and emotive both mean ‘connected with or appealing to the emotions’, but emotional is the word more often used in the neutral sense ‘relating to emotions’ whereas emotive has a stronger sense of ‘causing emotion’:
• In this oppressive society women need the care and emotional support of other women —A. Wilson, 1988
• The whole subject of removing children from their parents was no less emotive for them than for other members of the community —R. Black, 1992.Emotional, but not emotive, also means ‘easily affected by emotion’ with reference to people
• (All of us get elated and emotional as we stroll through a pine grove on a hot summer day when the old trees fill the air with their pungent fragrance —P. Heselton, 1991).Emotive is more commonly used of words or behaviour that tends to arouse emotions, and often qualifies words such as issue, language, topic, etc.
• (He was just firing a smokescreen of emotive words and phrases —Gavin Lyall, 1982)whereas emotional describes feeling and actions that involve emotion in themselves
• (From a good script will emerge a film in which every scene carries an emotional charge —J. Park, 1990).However, the considerable overlap in meaning is shown by the fact that the two words could be exchanged in the last two examples without causing any major difference to the way they are understood.
Modern English usage. 2014.