A connotation is the feeling a word invokes. But take note! A denotation is what the word literally says. If these words were on a trip, connotation would be the baggage, and denotation would be the traveler.
A connotation is the baggage a word or idea drags around. The word "baggage" often has a negative connotation. If you say someone has baggage, unless they're at the airport, you mean the person is lugging around some drama. Some words, like "awesome birthday cake," have a positive connotation. Here are some other examples:
"Long before the Christian era, people celebrated the winter equinox. Let's remove religious connotations and call it the winter equinox break." (Washington Post)
"I kind of hate that word 'collector' because it has such a financial investment connotation." ( Los Angeles Times)
"Bryan has instead always opted for baseball caps, a fashion item that carries few connotations other than a sense of casualness and youth." (The Guardian)
Denotation is literally the word for a word! It's the literal meaning of a word, a gesture, or any mark, without emotion. No strings attached. The root of denotation means, "make a note of." Let's make a note of these examples:
"In fact, the 'Parks and Recreation' alum said he didn't know the word's medical denotation." (Los Angeles Times)
"Mr. McDougall gave a strange charge to a gesture that, in Baroque dance, probably has a simple denotation." ( New York Times)
People love to read between the lines, so connotation is more popular, but it's often held up against its more rigid friend denotation.
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When you're talking about the implied subtext of words rather than their literal meaning, reach for the noun connotation. A political boss might not want to be called "boss" because of the negative connotations. Continue reading...