What is the difference between connotation and idiom?

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These two terms, connotation and idiom, aren't actually related in meaning. Often, connotation and denotation are held up as words that are close in meaning and similar-sounding, but ultimately, different. The denotation of a word is its dictionary definition, while the connotation of a word is more vague and has more to do with what the word suggests rather than the actual meaning of the word.

An idiom is a phrase that is outside of formal expression or diction. Idioms are often unique to a particular culture, and the words used in an idiom often have nothing to do with the meaning of the phrase. A good example of an idiom is the phrase "to kick the bucket" which means "to die." Buckets and the act of kicking have little to do with death, but for some reason, this phrase is meant to be a gentler way of referring to the act of dying. Idioms are also sometimes compared to slang, which is another kind of informal word or phrase.

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If you think of the dictionary definition of a word as a big D, that will help you understand connotation or the big C.  Connotation is the implied meaning or associated meaning of a word.  For example, the word thin has a dictionary meaning of lean or spare, not necessarily a positive.  The connotative meaning can be thin as associated with models as a positive meaning or implied meaning. 

Idiom is completely different and is the hardest for non-native speakers to use.  Idiom is an expression which is peculiar or characteristic to one language. For example, "fly by the seat of your pants" makes no sense by itself, yet it is an idiom which means to do something with no planning beforehand. If you think of expressions used by  the people around you which by themselves really make no sense but can be explained by the speaker, you are probably dealing with an idiom.  

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