- Date: 1532
- b : something suggested by a word or thing : implication <the connotations of comfort that surrounded that old chair>
- 2 : the signification of something <that abuse of logic which consists in moving counters about as if they were known entities with a fixed connotation — W. R. Inge>
- 3 : an essential property or group of properties of a thing named by a term in logic
Connotation is a subjective cultural and/or emotional coloration in addition to the explicit or denotative meaning of any specific word or phrase in a language, i.e. emotional association with a word.
Within contemporary society, connotation branches into a mixture of different meanings. These could include the contrast of a word or phrase with its primary, literal meaning (known as a denotation), with what that word or phrase specifically denotes. The connotation essentially relates to how anything may be associated with a word or phrase, for example, an implied value judgment or feelings.
- A stubborn person may be described as being either strong-willed or pig-headed. Although these have the same literal meaning (i.e. stubborn), strong-willed connotes admiration for the level of someone's will, while pig-headed connotes frustration in dealing with someone.
- It is often useful to avoid words with strong connotations (especially disparaging ones) when striving to achieve a neutral perspective. A desire for more positive connotations, or fewer negative ones, is one of the main reasons for using euphemisms.
In logic and semantics, connotation is roughly synonymous with intension. Connotation is often contrasted with denotation, which is more or less synonymous with extension. Alternatively, the connotation of the word may be thought of as the set of all its possible referents (as opposed to merely the actual ones). A word's denotation is the collection of things it refers to; its connotation is what it implied about the things it is used to refer to.