implicit association that a word or phrase carries, often cultural or emotional, in addition to its explicit or literal meaning

Connotation is a meaning that is suggested or implied, as opposed to a denotation, or literal definition.

English Wiktionary
English Wiktionary
The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for: connotation

Usage change

Today the word has different meanings, but it is always used for the contrast of a word or phrase with its primary, literal meaning (known as a denotation). That can be an implied value judgement or feelings.

  • A stubborn person may be described as being either strong-willed or pig-headed. Although these have the same literal meaning (i.e. stubborn), strong-willed connotes admiration for the level of someone's will, while pig-headed connotes frustration in dealing with someone. Likewise, used car and previously owned car have the same literal meaning, but many dealerships prefer the latter, since it is thought to have fewer negative connotations.
  • It is often useful to avoid words with strong connotations (especially negative ones) when striving to achieve a neutral point of view. A desire for more positive connotations, or fewer negative ones, is one of the main reasons for using euphemisms.

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