Definition of connotation in English:


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  • 1An idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.

    ‘the word “discipline” has unhappy connotations of punishment and repression’
    • ‘the work functions both by analogy and by connotation’
    • ‘Leaving aside the religious connotations of the word, an idol in the realm of pop culture is someone that people look up to and engage with.’
    • ‘Wouldn't you have to abandon any swear words with sexual connotations to maintain a consistent position?’
    • ‘The word carries serious negative connotations that stretch back to the days of colonial Africa.’
    • ‘‘Dilettante’ is not a word with a positive connotation in most circles, whereas ‘purist’ is, I think.’
    • ‘Our society often attaches a negative connotation to the word ‘game.’’
    • ‘But, given the creative skills and imagination of our tinsel town copywriters, the word takes a different connotation altogether.’
    • ‘Ostensibly neutral, each of these words has a positive connotation in the American political lexicon.’
    • ‘I use the word in its connotation of an unimpaired or uncorrupted state of affairs.’
    • ‘In spite of the negative connotations contained in the word there are good meanings that should be pondered.’
    • ‘The word is often used pejoratively and has similar negative connotations to the word ‘witch’ in medieval Europe.’
    • ‘Certainly, there are marked, and perhaps primary, political connotations to such myths.’
    • ‘While these examples have obvious connotations, some words are ambiguous.’
    • ‘The word carries connotations that we believe are out of keeping with our current knowledge about many kinds of kidney problems.’
    • ‘But the connotations of the word in English are not completely absent from these images.’
    • ‘Some of their words seemed to carry connotations that I was never able to recognize.’
    • ‘‘Sanctity’ is a word with a religious connotation; it means ‘holy or religiously sacred.’’
    • ‘Thus the word carries a connotation of some physical use of the property by the tenant for the purposes of his business.’
    • ‘The author criticizes conservatives for attaching a negative connotation of the word ‘liberal’ which he says actually symbolizes progress.’
    • ‘Like his other performance work, the idea is elegantly simple and full of connotation.’
    • ‘The word home, for instance, by denotation means only a place where one lives, but by connotation it suggests security, love, comfort, and family.’
    overtone, undertone, undercurrent, implication, hidden meaning, secondary meaning, nuance, flavour, feeling, aura, atmosphere, colouring, smack, hint, vein, echo, vibrations, association, intimation, suggestion, suspicion, insinuation
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    1. 1.1Philosophy The abstract meaning or intension of a term, which forms a principle determining which objects or concepts it applies to.
      Often contrasted with denotation
      ‘Seemingly gender-neutral terms such as aggressive and professional have different connotations when applied to men and women.’
      • ‘The term is useful because it is free from some of the acquired connotations of some other terms used for the same or a similar phenomenon.’
      • ‘One connotation of the term is that the imbalance must be really serious or exceptional.’
      • ‘Today the term rhetoric is generally used to refer only to the form of argumentation, often with the pejorative connotation that rhetoric is a means of obscuring the truth.’
      • ‘Gone, too, were the essentially macho male connotations which had informed abstract expressionism, to be replaced by a new lyricism.’
      meaning, understanding, construal, connotation, reading, explanation, inference, conclusion, supposition
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/ˌkänəˈtāSH(ə)n/ /ˌkɑnəˈteɪʃ(ə)n/


Mid 16th century from medieval Latin connotatio(n-), from connotare ‘mark in addition’ (see connote).