The denotation of a word refers to its ‘definition as per dictionary’. There are some words that share similar denotation, but they do not have the same tone, i.e. one can be positive and the other can be negative. In spite of two words have the same denotation, they can have a varied tone or energy, i.e. their connotation can be different. It is the tone or energy associated with the word that clicks our minds when we listen to the word.
While denotation is the ideal definition of a term according to the dictionary, the connotation is the implied or indirect meaning of the term. Connotation implies the broad range of positive and negative associations that the words convey, whereas denotation is the accurate explanation of the word, which can be found in the dictionary.
Content: Denotation Vs Connotation
|Basis for Comparison||Denotation||Connotation|
|Meaning||Denotation refers to the pure definition of the term, which one can find in the dictionary.||Connotation implies the emotional suggestions of the word which are not exact.|
|What is it?||Literal meaning||Suggestive meaning|
|Represents||Explicit or referential meaning.||Social overtones, cultural implications, or emotional meanings.|
|Use||When you mean what you say, word for word.||When you mean something else, which is initially hidden.|
Definition of Denotation
Denotation implies the true dictionary meaning of a word which is the central meaning of the expression. It is the precise and straightforward definition of that term with no emotions or feelings attached to it. Moreover, the meaning of the word remains the same irrespective of personal experiences.
- It is the key aspect of word meaning, that everyone typically agrees about.
- It is the literal sense or interpretation of the word.
- It is the objective relationship between words and the fact that it denotes.
- Denotations have a neutral objective tone.
For Example, The words ‘house’ and ‘home’ have similar denotation, i.e. a place where someone lives. However, they may not be used in the same context. Similarly, the denotative meaning of the words ‘cheap’ and ‘economical’ is low-priced or inexpensive but are commonly used in different contexts and cannot be used interchangeably.
Also Read: Difference Between Syntax and Grammar
Definition of Connotation
There are many words that have more than one meaning or they impliedly mean something different than their actual definition that we find in the dictionary. This is what we call connotation. It exists with the denotative meaning of the word.
- Connotation is the idea or feeling that the term calls for, together with its basic meaning.
- It is the emotional and imaginative association that a word encompasses or is connected to the word.
- It relies on implication, personal association, and cultural context.
- It is the emotional shades of the meaning of the word, which greatly hinges on the context and reader’s experience in the past.
- It may change from time to time and from society to society.
Connotation can be the positive or negative association that words carry with them. This means that every word that we use has a charge that can be positive or negative, there are also some words that are neutral and they generally have an impact and influence on the way people feel when they hear them.
For Example, the words ‘selective’ and ‘picky’ have similar dictionary definitions or denotation i.e. ‘careful about choosing things’. However, their connotations are different, i.e. while selective has a positive connotation, picky has a negative connotation.
Similarly, the words ‘child’, ‘brat’, and ‘kiddo’ indicate a young person, but the word ‘child’ has a neutral connotation, ‘brat’ has a negative connotation and ‘kiddo’ has a positive connotation.
Moreover, the connotation of the same word used in different contexts can also vary. It reflects the personal aspect of the meaning and the emotional thoughts that are associated with the word, It differs as per the experience of the persons as people have common experiences and so, there are certain words that carry shared connotations.
Furthermore, the words also hold different degrees of intensity. For example, the words, sad and depressed are synonyms and carry a negative connotation, but depressed is considered as more intense in comparison to sad.
The words may also differ in terms of gender. For example, we use beautiful for girls while handsome for boys, which are actually synonyms.
Also Read: Difference Between Sympathy and Empathy
Key Differences Between Denotation and Connotation
As we have understood the meanings with examples, let us now talk about the differences between denotation and connotation:
- Denotation is the strict dictionary meaning of the word, whereas connotation is the emotional, contextual meaning linked to a word. It represents the emotions, feelings, or ideas that come to your mind when you read or listen to a word.
- Denotation is what the word expresses i.e. concrete or specific sense, whereas connotation is what the word suggests, i.e. personal associations which the word produces.
- Denotation is the basic conceptual reflection of the word. As against, connotation indicates that facet of word’s meaning, that generates out of association in the user’s mind with the user’s own abstract ideas and values.
- The denotation of a word refers to its direct or primary explanation. Connotation of a word refers to its secondary or connected explanation, which indicates what is suggested or implied by the term.
- Denotation is the extension as it reflects the extent of the object to which the term is applied. On the other hand, the connotation is the intension that means the internal content of the word or qualities which the term intends.
|Commitment||Pledge or promise to do something||Emotional connection with someone|
|Slouchy||Lazy, drooping posture.||Walking, standing or sitting, with hands bent forward or crooked|
While denotation is the actual or exact meaning of the term, connotation refers to the emotion which the term brings or generates in the mind of people, together with its actual meaning. The connotative meaning of the term can have a huge impact on the statement that a person makes. Hence, if you pick a word with a negative connotation, the statement made by you can have a different impact on the person, then you were hoping.