The UVic Writer's Guide

Connotation / Denotation

Words have both denotations (literal meanings) and connotations (suggestive meanings). Fungus is a scientific term denoting a certain kind of natural growth, but the word also has certain connotations of disease and ugliness.

Connotations can be both positive and negative; for example, lady carries a hint of both elegance and subservience. The influence of connotative meaning can also change the denotative meaning, one example being the thoroughly transformed word gay.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 22, 1995