con·​no·​ta·​tion ˌkä-nə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce connotation (audio)
: something suggested by a word or thing : implication
the connotations of comfort that surrounded that old chair
: the suggesting of a meaning by a word apart from the thing it explicitly names or describes
: 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
: an essential property or group of properties of a thing named by a term in logic compare denotation
connotational adjective

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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.

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The bro label has historically been associated with negative connotations of toxic masculinity and exclusivity, Dr. Baker said. Nell Gallogly, New York Times, 22 Apr. 2023 The turn of phrase is catchy, but its connotations of coordinated conspiracy tend to obscure the book’s account of the quotidian workings of power. Brian Hochman, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2023 Knowing its devastating connotation to the first episode, many Last of Us fans replied to the Instagram post in absolute shambles. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 22 Jan. 2023 There are always negative connotations to everything. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 19 Apr. 2023 While not everyone will be offended, several diversity and inclusion experts told the Globe, the word has a long and complicated history, and can hold negative connotations when used in inappropriate settings, such as in contract negotiations in Perrone’s case. Ashley Soebroto,, 6 Apr. 2023 The phrase, despite its joyful connotations, was used often during those first few hours of the attack — which the U.S. military dubbed Operation Shock and Awe — by news anchors who struggled to describe the alternately dark and explosive scenes broadcast out of Baghdad. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2023 In its original usage, charlatan didn’t have any of those negative connotations. Elizabeth Heath, Discover Magazine, 15 Feb. 2023 But for those hooked on the porcine connotation of the name, the distillery team sees you and has released a new limited-edition PiggyBank Rye which pours directly from the pork posterior. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 2 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'connotation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see connote

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of connotation was in 1532

Dictionary Entries Near connotation

Cite this Entry

“Connotation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​no·​ta·​tion ˌkän-ə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce connotation (audio)
: a meaning suggested by a word or an expression in addition to its exact meaning
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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