Denotation - Encyclopedia




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DENOTATION (from Lat. denotare, to mark out, specify), in logic, a technical term used strictly as the correlative of Connotation, to describe one of the two functions of a concrete term. The concrete term "connotes" attributes and "denotes" all the individuals which, as possessing these attributes, constitute the genus or species described by the term. Thus "cricketer" denotes the individuals who play cricket, and connotes the qualities or characteristics by which these individuals are marked. In this sense, in which it was first used by J. S. Mill, Denotation is equivalent to Extension, and Connotation to Intension. It is clear that when the given term is qualified by a limiting adjective the Denotation or Extension diminishes, while the Connotation or Intension increases; e.g. a generic term like "flower" has a larger Extension, and a smaller Intension than "rose": "rose" than "moss-rose." In more general language Denotation is used loosely for that which is meant or indicated by a word, phrase, sentence or even an action. Thus a proper name or even an abstract term is said to have Denotaticn. (See CONNOTATION.)

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