Denotation vs Connotation: Difference and Comparison

The difference between denotation and connotation is that denotation is the actual meaning of a word or term as displayed in the dictionary, while on the other hand, the connotation is the evoked feeling or emotional weight of a particular word or term.

Denotation identifies the pure definition of a particular word or term in the dictionary. It’s used to mean what has been said. It’s the word’s literal meaning without any form of adjective on it.

It is the dictionary meaning of the word: My friend is sick. In this context, the sentence’s meaning is as it is said. It’s simple and has no adjectives that will tend to change the sentence’s meaning.

Connotation is the feeling evoked in a word or term. It is the emotional outweigh of a particular word as it is spoken. In connoting, there are multiple uses of adjectives to imply feelings. It’s used to emphasize words or terms.

It is the emotional weight of a word: My friend is so sick. In this sentence, the meaning brought about is a bit different from how it is spoken, it has the usage of the adjective “so” to emphasize how sick the friend is.

Key Takeaways

  1. Denotation refers to the literal dictionary definition of a word, while connotation is the emotional or cultural associations a word evokes.
  2. Denotation is objective and universal, whereas connotation can be subjective and vary between individuals and cultures.
  3. Understanding denotation and connotation is essential for effective communication and interpretation of language.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDenotationConnotation
MeaningActual definitionEmotional suggestions
What it isLiteral meaningSuggestive meaning
RepresentsReferential meaningEmotional meaning
DeterminesExtensionIntension
UsageWhen meant what has been saidMean other than what has been said about
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What is Denotation?

Denotation is the actual definition of a term or word as it is displayed in the dictionary. It is the literal meaning of a word without any added adjective that will give it another meaning.

It is used to mean what has been said: My friend is sick, the meaning evoked in this sentence is as it has been said. Therefore, denotation is the pure meaning of a word or term.

It has two categories; word decoration and sentence denotation. In both, the meaning is as it is said.

It gives the word, term, or sentence a primary meaning, making it easier to understand. It determines the extension of a word or a sentence.

What is Connotation?

It is the evoked feeling or emotional weight of a word. It has a substantial adjective usage to emphasize the actual meaning of what has been said. It’s used to evoke the intention of a word or sentence.

It implies another meaning other than what has been said; my friend is so sick. The use of the adjective “so” in this sentence is to emphasize how sick the friend is. Therefore, connotation implies feelings.

It gives both the primary and secondary meanings of a word or sentence. It gives the actual meaning of how a word or sentence is said and implies the feelings in the same sentence.

There are two types of connotations, with both having primary and secondary meanings; word and sentence connotations.

Main Differences Between Denotation and Connotation.

  1. Denotation is the pure definition of a word or term as it is displayed in the dictionary, while connotation is the evoked feeling or emotional weight of a term or word.
  2. Denotation implies the literal meaning of a word without any adjective usage, while connotation implies a suggestive meaning and has adjective usage.
  3. Denotation involves the referential meaning of a word or term, while denotation gives emotional weight to a word and evokes feelings.
  4. Denotation gives a single meaning, the primary meaning, while connotation gives both primary and secondary meanings.
  5. Denotation is used to give the actual meaning of what has been said, while connotation is used to give another meaning other than what has been said and evoke feelings.

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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