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 connotational (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

Wearing an actual cape doesn't hurt the superhero connotations. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Perfect White Cape Blazer, We Salute You," 6 Feb. 2019 But the whole point of this tape is to bring people together and giving a different face of the connotation of what South Florida is. Tony Centeno, Billboard, "Sylvan LaCue Premieres 'Florida Man' Video, Talks Dedicating New Mixtape to His Grandmother: Exclusive," 9 July 2018 Digital scales also have a connotation with drug use, though the Gravity app isn't quite accurate enough to measure drugs with any reliability. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "The iPhone 6S Can Work as a Digital Scale But Apple Doesn't Want It To," 28 Oct. 2015 But what makes being labeled Hispanic worse is the negative connotations and racist undertones. Araceli Cruz, Teen Vogue, "The Problematic History of the Word "Hispanic"," 9 Oct. 2018 Derek Daly, who had just moved to the United States then, said the term had a different meaning and connotation in his native Ireland. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "NASCAR Xfinity’s Conor Daly loses sponsorship over father's resurfaced N-word slur," 25 Aug. 2018 Melanie Moore, the Season 8 winner who has gone on to a successful Broadway career, said the show either holds little value for theater directors or has a negative connotation because of its reality TV roots. Brian Schaefer, New York Times, "But Is It Good for Dance? ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ at 15," 1 June 2018 Perdue, a former Georgia governor, may or may not have been aware of, and intentionally drawing on, these connotations. Rachel Withers, Vox, "Trump’s top agriculture official calls Florida’s gubernatorial race “cotton-pickin’ important”," 4 Nov. 2018 The mutual benefit is a marked difference from decades ago, when there was a negative connotation of even listening to drinking songs in country bars. Emily Yahr,, "Country music's sobering truths," 30 June 2018

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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Last Updated

26 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for connotation

The first known use of connotation was in 1532

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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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Comments on connotation

What made you want to look up connotation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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