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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Our society tells women and girls to be cautious with their money while telling men and boys to be smart, inherently creating very different connotations about finances and our respective roles in managing them. Eva Roytburg, Fortune, 10 June 2024 Such information could help distinguish the roles of sound intensity and cultural connotation in human harm. Joanne Silberner, Scientific American, 16 Apr. 2024 Newly independent nations valued modernism's connotations of internationalism, and saw it as a means to establish a visual identity for themselves. The Week Uk, theweek, 22 Mar. 2024 To call someone a dog, for instance, used to have a negative connotation on the ballfield. Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, 7 Feb. 2024 See all Example Sentences for connotation 

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 24 Jun. 2024.

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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