The literal sense of a word or its strict dictionary definition, as opposed to connotation which refers to the attitudes, emotions and values which may be usually evoked by the word, or which may be evoked by it in a specific context. For example, the word Nazi denotes the National Socialist Party in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s but it is frequently used for its ability to connotes fascists in general, bad people and racists. Similary a rose is a flower which connotes love and passion whereas (in Anglo-Saxon cultures) Arum lillies connote death.
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Editors. "Denotation". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001
[https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=266, accessed 13 December 2018.]