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 rapper had also been candid about his affiliation with Brooklyn gangs, but rejected the negative connotations, such as violence and criminal activity. Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 Is that just because of the scope of it, or the connotations that people have with a typical Las Vegas experience? Chris Willman, Variety, 24 Apr. 2023 In addition to its unsavory connotation, the label appears to have been inconsistently applied. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2023 At the very highest levels of the game, powerful people use language with similar connotations. Zak Garner-purkis, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2023 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 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 8 Jun. 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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