Share this entry
denotation Syllabification: de·no·ta·tion
Pronunciation: /ˌdēnōˈtāSHən/

Definition of denotation in 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
More example sentences
  • It is therefore perhaps best to say that a synonym is a word that shares the same denotation with another word.
  • In the Millian view, proper names have denotation, but not connotation.
  • 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…
1.1The action or process of indicating or referring to something by means of a word, symbol, etc.
Example sentences
  • The denotation of the symbol I had little to no interest in; it was the initial R, and the heart drawn around it.
  • The mode of reference fundamental to symbol systems is denotation: characters denote, stand for items in the field of reference.
  • 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.
1.2 Philosophy The object or concept to which a term refers, or the set of objects of which a predicate is true. Often contrasted with connotation.
Example sentences
  • According to Frege, while definitions should give the meanings and fix the denotations of terms, axioms should express truths.
  • All of these denotations involve philosophical complexities of absoluteness and are not relative or practical connotations.
  • 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.


Example sentences
  • Hence, Goodman appears to analyze pictorial representation as an ambiguous concept, ambiguous, that is, between a denotational sense and a non-denotational sense (‘is a so-and-so-picture).’
  • ‘The inherent procedural consequences of any computer program give it a toehold in semantics, where the semantics in question is not denotational, but causal.’
  • He sees them as a second-order semiotic system built upon the principle of connotative meaning ‘engrafted onto a denotational level of meaning.’
Definition of denotation in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources