con·​no·​ta·​tion | \ ˌkä-nə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce connotation (audio) \

Definition of connotation

1a : something suggested by a word or thing : implication the connotations of comfort that surrounded that old chair
b : the suggesting of a meaning by a word apart from the thing it explicitly names or describes
2 : the signification of something … that abuse of logic which consists in moving counters about as if they were known entities with a fixed connotation.— William Ralph Inge
3 : an essential property or group of properties of a thing named by a term in logic — compare denotation

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Other Words from connotation

connotational \ ˌkä-​nə-​ˈtā-​shnəl How to pronounce connotation (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

What’s the difference between connotation and denotation ?

Connotation and denotation are easily confused, and the fact that neither word is particularly common in everyday use makes it difficult for many people to get a firm grip on the difference between them. While each of these two words has several possible meanings, they are notably distinct from each other in all senses. Denotation is concerned with explicit meaning, and connotation tends to be concerned with implicit meaning. The word home, for instance, has a denotation of “the place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives,” but it may additionally have many connotations (such as “warmth,” “security,” or “childhood”) for some people.

Examples of connotation in a Sentence

Miuccia Prada, a connoisseur of vintage jewelry, has a collection of tiaras and subverts their formal connotations by wearing them for the day. — Hamish Bowles, Vogue, March 1997 Suddenly, Hsun-ching brightened. "So this is propaganda?" Alison did not know that, in Chinese, the word for propaganda literally means to spread information, and does not carry any negative connotations. — Mark Salzman, The Laughing Sutra, 1991 The word "evolution," with its connotation of unrolling, of progressive development, was not favored by Darwin; he preferred the bleak phrase "descent with modification" for his theory. — John Updike, New Yorker, 30 Dec. 1985 a word with negative connotations For many people, the word “fat” has negative connotations. The word “childlike” has connotations of innocence.
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Recent Examples on the Web Often given a sinister connotation in pop culture and folklore, the mismatched or odd eyes seem here to suggest, very subtly, that something isn’t quite right. Benjamin Lima, Dallas News, "And Now gallery features a talented crop of young artists," 22 Mar. 2021 Once academics and journalists—the philosopher Karl Popper and the historian Richard Hofstadter, most famously—started writing on the topic, conspiracy theory took on a very negative connotation, Thalmann told me. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, "How Truth Seekers Took Over the Internet," 17 Mar. 2021 Most who tweeted the phrase used it with a negative connotation and were more likely to display anti-Asian hate, the study found. Washington Post, "Racist anti-Asian hashtags spiked after Trump first tweeted ‘Chinese virus,’ study finds," 19 Mar. 2021 During the American Revolution, patriot had a positive connotation in America, but a negative one in England, Sokolowski said. Amir Vera, CNN, "What exactly does it mean to be a patriot? Experts say it's not easy to define," 30 Jan. 2021 The word then changed in meaning and connotation as infighting in Europe led to the formation of new nations, like America. Amir Vera, CNN, "What exactly does it mean to be a patriot? Experts say it's not easy to define," 30 Jan. 2021 The original myth, though, carries quite a different connotation: Worshiping lucre, Midas is visited by the god Dionysus, who grants his wish that anything within his grasp turns to gold. Washington Post, "Trump imagined himself a modern-day Midas. His touch was anything but golden.," 15 Jan. 2021 Modernism isn’t the perfect word to use here, given its straight-line connotation from European Impressionism in the late 19th century to American abstraction in the mid-20th. Murray Whyte,, "At Peabody Essex, a reset on South Asian art," 14 Jan. 2021 Since then, the company has changed the unlucky connotation of Friday the 13th and turned it into a joyous occasion, dubbing it RyeDay the 13th instead. Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, "One Lucky Whiskey Lover Can Win a VIP Stay on Baltimore’s Waterfront Plus $10,000 Cash," 19 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'connotation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of connotation

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for connotation

see connote

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Time Traveler for connotation

Time Traveler

The first known use of connotation was in 1532

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Statistics for connotation

Last Updated

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Connotation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for connotation



English Language Learners Definition of connotation

: an idea or quality that a word makes you think about in addition to its meaning

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