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Learn How To Use “Connote” and “Denote” Correctly

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“Connote” and “denote” don’t mean the same thing. We’ll go over their definitions and provide example sentences.

Define connote vs. Denote: Learn the difference below.
One of these words means “to suggest,” while the other explicitly indicates something. Do you know which one is which?
What’s the Difference Between Connote and Denote?

  • Connote means “to suggest or imply something” whereas denote means “to explicitly indicate something.”
    • Home, to me, connotes safety.
      The yellow sign denotes to take caution.


“Connote” vs. “Denote”

Sometimes both English language learners and native speakers make the mistake of using two words interchangeably, even if they don’t have the same meaning.

Although your audience may infer what you’re trying to say, even if you’re using the wrong word, experienced writers know that it’s important to always use accurate vocabulary.

This blog post will go over the difference between connote and denote to help you avoid errors in your writing.


“Connote” – Meaning and Examples

Connote is a verb. It means “to suggest something, like a feeling or idea, in addition to a primary meaning.”

Let’s take the word family. Its literal definition is “a group of people that share a common ancestor.” To some people, the word can also connote feelings of warmth, comfort, and support. However, to other people who may have had a difficult upbringing, the word family can connote pain and stress.

When you connote something, you are simply suggesting a secondary meaning; it is not explicitly stated.

He said he was happy with the results, but his facial expressions connoted that he was upset.
Christmastime connotes family time, love, and laughter.
Expensive cars connote wealth, although many people rent cars they cannot afford.

The noun form of this verb would be connotation, which means “the secondary, suggested meaning of a word, phrase, or thing.”

Most people enjoy their birthdays, but mine has always carried a negative connotation.
What is the meaning of denote? How about the meaning of connote?
Remember: “connote” and “denote” are not synonyms. 

“Denote” – Meaning and Examples

While connote means that something is merely suggested, denote means “to explicitly indicate.” In other words, it’s a verb that means “to mark or be a sign of something.”

We teach the students that the small hand denotes the minute, while the bigger hand denotes the hour.
Constant fevers can sometimes denote a more serious illness.
The yellow buoy denotes that you’ve gone too far. If you get to it, start making your way back.

Unlike connotation, denotation is the “primary or direct meaning of a word.”

To pass the English exam, we must know the spelling and denotation of all the words on the list.

Keep in mind though that denotation can also refer to “the word or term that signifies something specific.”

Lava is the denotation for the hot molten rock that gets expelled from volcanoes.
Connote vs Denote: Do you understand the difference?
Using LanguageTool denotes you want to be a skilled writer. 

Using “Connote” and “Denote” Correctly

Remember: connote simply means to suggest a secondary meaning or idea, whereas denote means to indicate straightforwardly.

  • Connote is to connotation what denote is to denotation.

Now that you know what these two words mean, isn’t it apparent why they can’t be interchanged? They have entirely different definitions.

Having extensive knowledge of English vocabulary words is a fantastic way to improve your writing skills. That, plus using LanguageTool as your spelling and grammar checker, can help take your writing to the next level. Not only does this multilingual text editor ensure error-free writing, but it can help rephrase your sentences to suit your desired style, tone, and voice.


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