The term "loaded language" refers to words, phrases, and overall verbal and written communication that is intended to inspire emotion in the reader or listener. This usage of language to appeal to emotion is used in everyday conversation and is often used by politicians, public figures, advertisers and corporations.
Loaded language is considered a persuasive technique and has also been called emotive language, high-inference language, or loaded terms. It is often used in order to:
Some have even claimed that the use of loaded language is a brainwashing technique.
The noted writer George Orwell in discussion of using loaded language had this to say:
"The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable.' The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning."
Often, loaded language exists as a substitute for other words or phrases, one more negative or positive than the other depending on circumstance.
Some examples include:
Loaded language can create an emotional image that is different in each person, based on their experiences and beliefs. Some examples include:
Some other words that could be considered persuasive and therefore loaded include:
Foreign words are also often used as loaded language in order to give an air of knowledge, culture or pretense. Some common examples include:
Some metaphorical phrases are considered to be loaded. Often this is because their wordiness replaces simple verbs that may not evoke as much explanation.
Some examples are:
Loaded language is widely used and is very effective in gaining emotion. Watch for loaded language any time you hear a politician speak- you are sure to hear lots of it!