Denotation vs. Connotation


[pees-fuh l] /ˈpis fəl/
characterized by peace; free from war, strife, commotion, violence, or disorder:
a peaceful reign; a peaceful demonstration.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a state or time of peace.
peaceable; not argumentative, quarrelsome, or hostile:
a peaceful disposition.
Origin of peaceful
1250-1300; Middle English pesful. See peace, -ful
Related forms
peacefully, adverb
peacefulness, noun
quasi-peaceful, adjective
quasi-peacefully, adverb
semipeaceful, adjective
semipeacefully, adverb
unpeaceful, adjective
unpeacefully, adverb
Can be confused
peaceable, peaceful (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. Peaceful, placid, serene, tranquil refer to what is characterized by lack of strife or agitation. Peaceful today is rarely applied to persons; it refers to situations, scenes, and activities free of disturbances or, occasionally, of warfare: a peaceful life. Placid, serene, tranquil are used mainly of persons; when used of things (usually elements of nature) there is a touch of personification. Placid suggests an unruffled calm that verges on complacency: a placid disposition; a placid stream. Serene is a somewhat nobler word; when used of persons it suggests dignity, composure, and graciousness: a serene old man; when applied to nature there is a suggestion of mellowness: the serene landscapes of autumn. Tranquil implies a command of emotions, often because of strong faith, which keeps one unagitated even in the midst of excitement or danger. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for peacefully
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the course of a few days the strength of the Emperor began to decline, and at last he quietly and peacefully passed away.

  • He married Aldonza at Michaelmas, and all went well and peacefully in the household.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • The course of time had flowed through the interval since the winter peacefully and happily in our new home.

    The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
  • Let us interrogate the great apparition, that shines so peacefully around us.

    Nature Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The other girls were sleeping as peacefully as though they were in their own beds at Ardmore College.

    Ruth Fielding In the Saddle Alice B. Emerson
British Dictionary definitions for peacefully


not in a state of war or disagreement
tranquil; calm
not involving violence: peaceful picketing
of, relating to, or in accord with a time of peace: peaceful uses of atomic energy
inclined towards peace
Derived Forms
peacefully, adverb
peacefulness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for peacefully



early 14c., "inclined to peace, friendly, pacific," from peace + -ful. Meaning "tranquil, calm, full of peace" is from mid-14c. In reference to nonviolent methods of effecting social change, it is attested from 1876. Related: Peacefully; peacefulness. Peaceful coexistence (1920) originally was in regard to Soviet policy toward the capitalist West.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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