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From to denote (from Middle French denoter, from Latin dēnotāre (denote, mark out), itself from dē- (completely) + notāre (to mark) + -ation; equivalent to denote +‎ -ation.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌdiː.noʊˈteɪ.ʃən/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: de‧no‧ta‧tion
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃən


denotation (countable and uncountable, plural denotations)

  1. The act of denoting, or something (such as a symbol) that denotes
  2. (logic, linguistics, semiotics) The primary, surface, literal, or explicit meaning of a signifier such as a word, phrase, or symbol; that which a word denotes, as contrasted with its connotation; the aggregate or set of objects of which a word may be predicated.
    The denotations of the two expressions "the morning star" and "the evening star" are the same (i.e. both expressions denote the planet Venus), but their connotations are different.
    • 2018, James Lambert, “A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity”, in English World-Wide[1], page 6:
      Regarding denotation, the terms were generally used to refer to a wide range of language contact varieties and features.
  3. (philosophy, logic) The intension and extension of a word
  4. (semantics) Something signified or referred to; a particular meaning of a symbol
  5. (computer science) Any mathematical object which describes the meanings of expressions from the languages, formalized in the theory of denotational semantics
  6. (media studies) A first level of analysis: what the audience can visually see on a page. Denotation often refers to something literal, and avoids being a metaphor.

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denotation c (singular definite denotationen, plural indefinite denotationer)

  1. denotation (clarification of this definition is needed)


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