con·​no·​ta·​tion | \ˌkä-nə-ˈtā-shən \

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 , -​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

But LaCroix could stand out because its drinks have a healthy connotation that fits nicely with swimwear. USA TODAY, "If you crave LaCroix sparkling water, maybe you'll like the swimsuit," 16 May 2018 Voodoo has negative connotations in Western culture — but was primarily used for healing, good luck, and love as described throughout the tiny voodoo museum where these trinkets were sold. Scott Heller, New York Times, "Sightseeing for History (With a Few Selfies Along the Way)," 6 July 2018 There was something of Britten in the vocal writing, a quality that widens the potential connotations of the words through the music, but not in an obvious way. Peter Dobrin,, "The Crossing choir premieres vivid new Kile Smith work," 1 July 2018 Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has narrowly avoided a ban from his country's World Cup semi-final against England after posting a nine-second video with strong political connotations on social media., "Croatia Defender Escapes Ban for England Clash After Posting Controversial Video on Social Media," 8 July 2018 But the Pope only uses the word populist in a narrow connotation, to refer to right-wing movements that exalt ethnic nationalism while portraying immigrants and elites as hostile alien forces. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Pope Francis blames family separation on ... populism?," 21 June 2018 There’s a negative connotation that potentially the run is fake, the coin is being pumped and the price will crash. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "FUD and HODL: How to Speak Cryptoslang," 27 June 2018 Whatever political connotations the two countries may have attached to the match, the players saw it only as Die Bruderkampf – a fight between brothers., "World Cup Countdown: 11 Weeks to Go - East Germany Silence Their Noisy Neighbours in 1974," 4 Apr. 2018 Much like Shula did last year, Turner wants Newton to get the ball out of his hands more quickly (paging Christian McCaffrey) and understand that check-downs don’t need to have a negative connotation. Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "Has Cam Newton changed? Panthers QBs coach returns to Charlotte to find he has," 26 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

8 Oct 2018

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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