[ dee-noh-tey-shuhn ]
See synonyms for denotation on
  1. the explicit or direct meaning or set of meanings of a word or expression, as distinguished from the ideas or meanings associated with it or suggested by it; the association or set of associations that a word usually elicits for most speakers of a language, as distinguished from those elicited for any individual speaker because of personal experience.

  2. a word that names or signifies something specific: “Wind” is the denotation for air in natural motion. “Poodle” is the denotation for a certain breed of dog.

  1. the act or fact of denoting; indication.

  2. something that denotes; mark; symbol.

  3. Logic.

    • the class of particulars to which a term is applicable.

    • that which is represented by a sign.

Origin of denotation

1525–35; <Latin dēnotātiōn- (stem of dēnotātiō) a marking out, equivalent to dēnotāt(us) (past participle of dēnotāre;see denote) + -iōn--ion

Words Nearby denotation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use denotation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for denotation


/ (ˌdiːnəʊˈteɪʃən) /

  1. the act or process of denoting; indication

  2. a particular meaning, esp one given explicitly rather than by suggestion

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for denotation


[ (dee-noh-tay-shuhn) ]

The basic dictionary meaning of a word, without its connotations. For example, the denotation of the word modern is “belonging to recent times,” although the word may have different connotations.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.