Understanding Denotation and Connotation

Language is symbolic in that we use it to represent ideas, objects, and feelings. Because language is only representative, you can interpret any given statement in more than one way. Sometimes the difference is simply literal versus figurative interpretation. Denotation and connotation are two more tools you can employ to discern the meaning of an unfamiliar term. For a writer to express herself precisely, she must understand both the denotations and connotations of words, and use that understanding to convey to the reader her exact intent.


A word's denotation is the strict dictionary definition of that word and refers to the actual thing or idea it represents. In other words, a denotation is ...

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