Explain the difference between denotation and connotation.


It might be interesting to add that the prefix "con" gives a clue to the most important difference between these terms.  A word accumulates its connotive meaning from past uses in past contexts--take, for example, the words "prejudice" and "discrimination".  Once perfectly legitimate terms to some steps in the logical progress, their use in social contexts has rendered them tainted for non-social use--if I said I was prejudiced against Indian food, for example, I would not be communicating well.  Some words get a connotation from a "frozen idiom".  We used to be able to call a female dog a bitch, but because of the frozen idiom "son of a bitch" (meaning "he's a dog" or "less than a human") the word has taken on connotations that prohibit its use in other contexts.

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