Definition of denotation in US English:



  • 1The literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests.

    ‘beyond their immediate denotation, the words have a connotative power’
    • ‘It is therefore perhaps best to say that a synonym is a word that shares the same denotation with another word.’
    • ‘That's why I've decided to change the denotation of several ordinary words in order to develop my own slang.’
    • ‘Note that there is a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ side denotation for the brackets.’
    • ‘This type of denotation was not used just to name the child in question, but to express the kind of bond and identification that preservice teachers had developed with their children.’
    • ‘In these cases, the connotation is relied upon more than the denotation.’
    • ‘Westerners have accepted the Japanese selection of the word ‘gentleness’ and have, arbitrarily, without familiarity or regard for the founder's intentions, taken the word in its absolute denotation.’
    • ‘In the Millian view, proper names have denotation, but not connotation.’
    • ‘Revenge was such a malicious and stupid act in some people's definition, but the denotation to her was justice.’
    • ‘In any case, it is a source of pride to our students and community, and just goes to show how the denotation of a word is only half the story…’
    • ‘Barthes is particularly interested in the connotation, as opposed to denotation, of social signs; that is, their secondary meaning.’
    • ‘And that form of speech only came to be fully understood in the theories of reference which appeared much later, when reference and denotation came to be more clearly separated from description and attribution.’
    • ‘While the author writes knowledgeably about economic and other historical events, he illuminates colonial tropes, mimicry, parody, and other dynamics between metropolitan denotation and colonial connotation.’
    • ‘Those of us who weren't born before WWII know the denotation of the name ‘Hitler’ but we have no experience with the connotation.’
    • ‘Economy in denotation and connotation can prohibit thought as well as promote it.’
    • ‘The simplest denotation of a tree, a trunk dividing upward into two thick branches, appears against placeless black.’
    • ‘But the question arises of whether there could possibly be a singular name that in some way manages to have the sort of denotation that would allow a singular they to refer back to it.’
    • ‘Connotations often imply emotion and imagery, while denotations transmit a defined meaning.’
    • ‘For what is money but a denotation of value, a placeholder marking the commonly accepted worth of a good or service?’
    • ‘A single flaw in the process could send the entire denotation of the page askew.’
    • ‘The shared nature of this trust suggests its denotation as communal trust.’
    1. 1.1 The action or process of indicating or referring to something by means of a word, symbol, etc.
      • ‘What's the difference between a kind denotation and a set or a mass?’
      • ‘I guess you can get the smart person award for the person who got that little denotation!’
      • ‘The mode of reference fundamental to symbol systems is denotation: characters denote, stand for items in the field of reference.’
      • ‘The syllabus definition echoes this denotation.’
      • ‘I love the parallel nuttiness of the denotations and the curiously balanced and opposed vowel sounds that follow.’
      • ‘Iconography refers to denotations or connotations of designs or forms which may or may not be verbally expressed, and which may or may not be conscious to the users.’
      • ‘The denotation of the symbol I had little to no interest in; it was the initial R, and the heart drawn around it.’
      • ‘It is the policy of the government to prefer that denotation.’
      • ‘An improvement ‘of’ the land has an abstract denotation indicating a better quality or condition of the land itself, but having no independent existence or identity.’
      • ‘Poetic language is not merely the reversion of the direction Agamben identifies in the western experience of language, substituting a language of indication or denotation for a language of meaning.’
      • ‘In addition, trainees will be expected to know the official etymology, derivations, connotations and denotations of the term.’
      meaning, sense
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Philosophy The object or concept to which a term refers, or the set of objects of which a predicate is true.
      Often contrasted with connotation
      • ‘All of these denotations involve philosophical complexities of absoluteness and are not relative or practical connotations.’
      • ‘According to Frege, while definitions should give the meanings and fix the denotations of terms, axioms should express truths.’
      • ‘His overarching definition of the archive is rooted in a turn-of-the-century culture in which denotations of class and classification became a basis for photographic meaning.’
      • ‘Social history and folk life studies are becoming increasingly interchangeable as disciplinary denotations.’
      • ‘Along the way, some figurative senses begin to associate themselves with ‘embed,’ but the denotations are always the same: The embedded substance is fixed, fast, surrounded, and cannot escape without extraction.’