The Meaning of Connotation: What It Is and How To Use It

What is the difference between connotation and denotation? This article will explain the meaning of connotation and teach you how to use this word.

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Has anyone ever used a word that made sense in definition but not in feeling? They probably used a word with the wrong connotation in context. Connotation is very important when it comes to creative writing.

This article will teach you all about the word connotation and how to use it. It will also list related words, teach you how to say the word connotation in other languages, and provide synonyms and antonyms of the word connotation. So, read on to learn about connotative meaning!

What Does Connotation Mean?

According to Dictionary, connotation is the secondary or underlying meaning of a word or the emotional association that it evokes. Connotation is not explicitly stated in a word’s definition, but it is the meaning that it takes on over time in its usage. Words can have a positive connotation, a negative connotation, or a neutral connotation. The pronunciation of connotation is ˌkɒnəˈteɪʃən.

In English linguistics, you might hear about connotation and denotation. Denotation refers to the literal or explicit meaning of a word, while connotative meaning refers to the set of attributes of a word beyond its explicit meaning. Figurative language often uses connotation to express the feelings behind words.

What Is the Etymology of Connotation?

The word connotation has been used for a long time — since the late 1300s in Middle English! This word comes from the late Middle English connotacion, a word which stems from the Medieval Latin connotātiōn, connotātiō, connotatus, and connotare.

What Are Examples of Connotation?

To better understand the word connotation, it can be useful to look at words that have the same definition but different connotations.

 For example, in the below list of connotation examples from Your Dictionary, the first word has a positive connotation, the second has a neutral connotation, and the third has a negative connotation:

  •  conversing | talking | jabbering
  •  interested | curious | nosy
  •  beings | mammals | creatures
  •  unique | different | peculiar
  •  easygoing | relaxed | lackadaisical
  •  aroma | scent | stench
  •  sated | filled | crammed
  •  protest | demonstration | riot
  •  employ | use | exploit
  •  thrifty | saving | stingy
  •  compassion | feeling | hysteric
  •  vintage | old | decrepit
  •  courageous | confident | conceited
  •  beam | smile | grimace
  •  steadfast | tenacious | stubborn
  •  meticulous | selective | picky
  •  elated | happy | manic
  •  clearheadedness | logic | coldness

Let’s take one of these examples and put it into sentences! See how the sentence’s meaning changes with just one word substituted for a synonym with a different connotation.


Rick was an easygoing person who enjoyed nothing more than lounging in his hammock on a Saturday afternoon with a drink in his hand. 


Rick was a relaxed person who enjoyed nothing more than lounging in his hammock on a Saturday afternoon with a drink in his hand. 


Rick was a lackadaisical person who enjoyed nothing more than lounging in his hammock on a Saturday afternoon with a drink in his hand.

What Are Translations of Connotation?

Many different languages other than American English have words for connotation. When you first learn a language, you might learn words with a neutral connotation because they are the most basic. 

However, as you learn more about languages, you might discover that many of them also have words with positive, negative, and neutral connotations. You can discuss connotation in numerous languages with this list of translations of connotation from Nice Translator!

  • Greek: έννοια
  • Portuguese (Brazil): conotação
  • Croatian: konotacija
  • Hebrew: מַשְׁמָעוּת
  • Basque: konnaguntza
  • Hindi: अर्थ
  • Icelandic: Tenging
  • Korean: 내포
  • German: Konnotation
  • Norwegian: konnotasjon
  • Serbian: конотација
  • Dutch: aansluiting
  • Slovak: konotácia
  • Indonesian: makna tambahan
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 內涵
  • Swedish: konnotation
  • Romanian: conotație
  • Italian: connotazione
  • Hungarian: konnotáció
  • Czech: konotace
  • Telugu: కొనాటేషన్
  • Malayalam: അർത്ഥമത്തുസൂട്ട
  • Danish: konnotation
  • Arabic: دلالة
  • Russian: Коннотация
  • French: connotation
  • Vietnamese: ý nghĩa
  • Latvian: nozīme
  • Bengali: অর্থ
  • Welsh: nghynodiadau
  • Malay: konotasi
  • Marathi: अर्थ
  • Thai: ความหมาย
  • Kannada: ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ
  • Polish: konotacja
  • Finnish: konnotaatio
  • Slovenian: konotacija
  • Swahili: maana
  • Ukrainian: конотація
  • Filipino: konotasyon
  • Turkish: çağrıştırma
  • Tamil: அர்த்தம்
  • Spanish: connotación
  • Amharic: መግለጫ
  • Lithuanian: konotacija
  • Bulgarian: подзначение
  • Chinese (PRC): 内涵
  • Portuguese (Portugal): conotação
  • Catalan: connotació
  • Estonian: varjund
  • Gujarati: મતાધિકાર
  • Japanese: 意味合い

What Are Synonyms of Connotation?

Power Thesaurus lists many words with the same definition as the word connotation. However, many of these words may have different connotations themselves! While all of these words have the same denotation, see if you can decipher which have a positive, neutral, or negative connotation.

  • acceptation
  • allusion
  • association
  • assumption
  • definition
  • denotation
  • drift
  • essence
  • exegetics
  • explanation
  • feeling
  • gist
  • glossology
  • hidden meaning
  • hint
  • idea
  • implication
  • import
  • incidental mention
  • indication
  • inference
  • innuendo
  • insinuation
  • intension
  • intent
  • interpretation
  • intimation
  • low tone
  • meaning
  • meanings
  • message
  • nuance
  • overtone
  • overtones
  • pith
  • point
  • purport
  • semantics
  • semiotics
  • sense
  • significance
  • signification
  • subtext
  • suggestion
  • suspicion
  • symbology
  • tenor
  • thrust
  • undercurrent
  • undertone
  • value

What Are Antonyms of Connotation?

The opposite of connotation is denotation, a word’s literal meaning. Power Thesaurus lists many words with the same denotation as denotation. 

See if you can determine which of these words have a different connotation! Do any of them stick out as positive, negative, or neutral?

  • acceptation
  • analogue
  • appellative
  • badge
  • clarification
  • cue
  • definition
  • definitions
  • denomination
  • description
  • designation
  • designatum
  • drift
  • elucidation
  • emblem
  • essence
  • explanation
  • explication
  • extension
  • first name
  • forename
  • gist
  • given name
  • guidepost
  • hint
  • implication
  • import
  • indication
  • indications
  • intent
  • interpretation
  • mark
  • meaning
  • meanings
  • message
  • pith
  • point
  • purport
  • reference
  • referent
  • relevance
  • semantics
  • sense
  • sign
  • significance
  • signification
  • substance
  • symbol
  • tenor
  • thrust
  • token
  • value


The definition of connotation is the feeling or emotional attributes that a word or phrase evokes. In contrast, a word’s denotation is its literal or dictionary definition. 

If you are writing something like an academic paper, denotation might be more important than connotation. On the other hand, if you are writing something like a poem, a word’s connotation might take precedence.


  1. Connotation synonyms – 328 Words and Phrases for Connotation | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Denotation synonyms – 390 Words and Phrases for Denotation | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Connotation Definition & Meaning | 
  4. Connotative Words: Examples and Meaning of Connotation| Your Dictionary