Guide to Literary Terms Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

I need examples of denotation and connotation. All words have a denotation and connotation. The denotation refers to the most basic or specific meaning of a word. In contrast, a connotation is an idea that is suggested by or associated with a word. For example, the word home is just a name of structure, but the word has connotation of a nation, a place of warmth, comfort, and affection. 

An example of the difference between connotation and denotation can be found in the distinction between the words "childish" and "childlike." While the denotations for these two words are essentially identical, the first has a more insulting connotation while the latter reads as more whimsical and positive.

Expert Answers info

Inuk Lee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write4,794 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Denotation can be thought of as dictionary meanings or definitions. Connotation is related to the subjective and cultural experiences of individuals. For example, when a person uses the word, “father,” it will not be value free. A father may connote various other thoughts and feelings such as kindness, severity, love, or abuse. Therefore, in interpreting a text, it will be important to ask what words connote in that particular context. Also it will be important to realize that words can connote very different notions with a change in time and place. Here is another example from the modern day. Bad can mean something not good, but among some young people, "bad" can mean cool. The connotation of the word is radically different!

I will add a link that discusses all of your concerns plus more. Read carefully.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Please consider these examples:

skinny, thin, and slender. These three words all mean having less weight on one's body than what might be considered average. But the connotations differ since the suggested meanings of skinny and thin are often more negative than slender, with skinny potentially the most negative of the three.

childlike and childish both mean characteristic of a child; however, childlike suggests innocence, meekness and wide-eyed wonder, while chidish suggests immaturity, pettiness, and willfulness.

horses and coursers both denotes equinines, but coursers has the suggestion of agile and dainty equinines.

new denotes of recent origin, but the connotation can suggest better, improved

cheap and inexpensive both denote not costly, but the connotation of cheap suggests something is of poor quality whereas inexpensive does not.

Often connotation is a result of the context of a word. For instance, if one says that the dog barked, the connotation is neutral, but if one says that the manager barked orders at his staff, the connotation is clearly negative.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

There are plenty of examples that you can think of.  For example:

  • The word "snake" simple denotes a reptile.  But it has the connotation of someone who can not be trusted, someone who cheats, and/or someone who will do harm to you if they can.
  • In American English, both "kid" and "child" have the same denotation, but "kid" has a much more playful and affectionate connotation.
  • In business/economic terms, the word "outsourcing" denotes having a different firm do some of the work that helps build or create the product that your firm makes.  But the connotation of this word is very negative.  It has the connotation of hiring cheap labor, usually in a foreign country, and destroying American jobs.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

hayleyet | Student

Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, while connotation refers to the additional meanings and moods one associates with it. Often, figures of speech play on metaphors. For example, the phrase "her eyes were like the sea..." might play on the sea's connotation of being beautiful, deep, blue, or mysterious. Words can share denotations yet have different connotations. Consider adjectives like 'hyper' and 'spirited' or 'curious' and 'nosy'. Both words in each pair have essentially the same denotation, but vary in connotation. Normally, 'curious' and 'spirited' are positive connotations, while 'hyper' and 'nosy' are seen as having negative ones. 


arrellbelle | Student

Denotation is the dictionary definition of a term. It goes by the book, essentially. Whereas, a connotation is what we associate the term with.

For example, if we look at the term rose. The denotation is that it is a red, wild flower. If we look at the connotations, we naturally associate a rose with Valentine's Day or romance and courting.