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The denotation of an expression (a word, phrase or sentence) is the thing to which that expression refers. The denotation of the proper name Julius Caesar is the person with that name; the denotation of the common noun horse is the set of horses, etc. The term denotation (or denotatum) is roughly synonymous with the terms extension and reference, although these terms have acquired more specific content in particular frameworks. The term denotation is sometimes used in opposition to the term connotation to indicate that we abstract away from emotional and sociocultural aspects of meaning, restricting ourselves to what an expression refers to.

See also


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics

Other Languages

German Denotation (de)