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Denotation Examples

Denotation is a translation of a sign to its meaning, more exactly, to its literal or dictionary meaning. Denotation is sometimes contrasted to connotation, which translates a sign to meanings associated with it. For example, 'home' denotes the house where one lives, but connotes privacy, intimacy, and coziness to someone; or the word 'modern' which means "belonging to recent times," although the word may have different connotations..

In logic, linguistics and semiotics, the denotation of a word or phrase is a part of its meaning; however, the part referred to varies by context. In grammar and literary theory, the denotation of a term is devoid of emotion, attitude, and color. In semiotics, it is the surface or literal meaning of a signifier. Lastly, in logic, formal semantics and parts of linguistics, it is the extension of a term. Examples of denotation can be found in various fields throughout every day life. It can be a symbol which represents an emotion, name, or even an organization, such as a cartoon heart to denote love or a simple cross to represent Christianity.
Billy owns a pet snake that he keeps in an aquarium filled with sand.
Meaning: Snake is used as a literal snake, the animal.
List Sentences
All the worlds a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.

Meaning: Shakespeare moves away from the denotative meanings of words in the above lines in order to give a symbolic sense to a few words. a stage symbolizes the world, players suggests human beings and parts implies different stages of their lives.

- William Shakespeare (Play: As you Like It)
List Literature William Shakespeare
A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolld round in earths diurnal course
With rocks, and stones, and trees.

Meaning: Wordsworth makes a contrast between a living girl and a dead girl in the first and second stanza respectively. We are familiar to the meanings of the words used in the last line of the second stanza; rock, stone and tree but the poet uses them connotatively where rock and stone imply cold and inanimate object and the tree suggests dirt and thus the burial of that dead girl.

- William Wordsworth (Poem: A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal)
List Literature William Wordsworth Poems Poetry
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

Meaning: The word wall is used to suggest a physical boundary which is its denotative meaning but it also implies the idea of emotional barrier.

- Robert Frost (Poem: Mending Wall)
List Literature Robert Frost Poems Poetry
Denotation Meaning
Denotation is 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.
Denotation Examples
" You are a dog" means that you are literally a canine.