[dee-noh-tey-tiv, dih-noh-tuh-tiv]


having power to denote.
denoting or tending to denote: the denotative meaning of a word.

Origin of denotative

1605–15; < Latindēnotātus (past participle of dēnotāre to mark out, denote) + -ive
Related formsde·no·ta·tive·ly, adverbde·no·ta·tive·ness, nounnon·de·no·ta·tive, adjectivenon·de·no·ta·tive·ly, adverbun·de·no·ta·tive, adjectiveun·de·no·ta·tive·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for denotative

Historical Examples of denotative

  • Definitions are of three types, denotative, expository, scientific.

    How We Think

    John Dewey

  • It finds that "reality" is a denotative term, a word used to designate indifferently everything that happens.

    Creative Intelligence

    John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen

  • Most terms (the exceptions and doubtful cases will be discussed hereafter) have two functions, a denotative and a connotative.


    Carveth Read

  • In every language those words which are denotative of sounds are nearly always also imitative of them.

  • Meaning here, then, can be neither the connotative nor denotative reference of a term; they are covered by the two prior formulae.

British Dictionary definitions for denotative



able to denote; designative
explicit; overt
Derived Formsdenotatively, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for denotative

1610s, from Latin denotat-, past participle stem of denotare (see denote) + -ive.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper