Don't let the rhyme fool you — to connote is to imply a meaning or condition, and to denote is to define exactly. Connote is like giving a hint, but to denote is to refer to something outright.

To connote is to suggest a connection. The word red can connote danger; we use the color red in warning signs to signify danger. Only words and symbols can connote something; people imply it. Here are some hints:

The "Good Old Days" connote a fond remembrance of better times in the past. (Forbes)

"Dear is a bit too intimate and connotes a personal relationship," Ms Barry told the paper. (BBC)

The word red also denotes a color, and a blue wheelchair painted on a parking spot denotes handicap parking. A word's denotation is its literal meaning. You can also use denote to mean to indicate something or to be a sign of something:

With the meters no longer denoting each spot, drivers can fill up a parking lane as they see fit, whether efficiently or inconsiderately. (New York Times)

Blue colours denote wetter earth; yellow colours show drier conditions. (BBC)

According to Garner's Modern American Usage , use of connote for denote is at stage 3 of language change: it's common even among educated speakers and writers. To keep it straight remember that connote is like imply, and denote is telling you like it is.Musical notes denote sound. What's denote? It's a B-flat. Get it?